Strawberries were the totems of childhood today, at Cedar Circle Farm’s 7th annual strawberry festival. Of the milling, stooping, picking, licking population, about two-thirds were fewer than four feet tall. Many wore the totem on their shirts, hats, or cheeks. The folks at Cedar Circle make this day as much a celebration of childhood as of strawberries and local food in general. There were three horse-drawn wagons, a mural-drawing section of the barn wall, a coloring station, face-painting teenage girls, a sandbox, strawberry smoothies and shortcake, coffee for the parents, puppetry, kite-making, tractors to sit on, and live music. And, of course, picking.
We hit the face-painting table first; the boys both got trucks.
my son, the sceptic
Then we walked around the food stations. There were local sausages from Hogwash Farm on the grill, organic pizzas cooking in a wood-oven on wheels, and strawberry shortcake with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream from Strafford Organic Creamery. In honor of this berry, which has been cultivated since medieval times, everything was very forward-looking. The food was served on compostable dishes with compostable utensils; there was a complex trash station. Near the coloring table there was a photo-and-text display (a low-tech, stop-time PowerPoint presentation hung with clothespins) about “The Real Costs of Cheap Food”, which included descriptions of chemicals that flow and leach from non-organic farms into ground water, lakes, and rivers, and a definition of food miles (how far a food travels from farm to table, with the fossil fuels required a big consideration), and some charming spelling errors. There was also a photo-narrative of strawberry growing, from bed preparation during the winter to picking in June. This display included lots of pictures with hay around the edges, in the middle, and present as a general tone (hay keeps down the weeds) as well as shots of very tan, lightly clad interns happily working the dirt.
Cedar Circle grows eight varieties of strawberries, and an array of vegetables—all certified organic.
My mom and I, with the occasional help of Jack and his cousin Jeremiah who preferred sitting on tractors, and my sister, Bridget, who helped them up and down the tractor steps, picked four pounds of berries. We chose two varieties: Wendy, known by its petite size and light sweetness, and Mesabi, which is bigger, and almost raspberry-like in flavor. The plants were so high that lifting the leaves to look for spots of red was like opening the curtains—in a doll’s house. The pleasure of discovery became addictive. It’s hard to stop, even when the basket’s full!
Strawberries fresh off the stem, warmed by the sun, melted into juice in an instant in our mouths. There were many worshippers.
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