Farmer's Kitchen—Strawberry Fields
Written onJune 01 , 2010
Dan drives his ‘79 Ford tractor out to the field with a wagon full of empty picking flats. I jump out of the wagon with our daughters, Evelyn and Eileen, and we choose a row, each grabbing a couple of flats. Polly, our Brittany spaniel, heads to the nearby pond to chase frogs, while the iridescent tree swallows skim for bugs. It’s a warm day in Hinesburg, so we’re all lathered in sunscreen and wearing hats. (The deer flies don’t bother you as much if you wear a hat.)
The field smells sweet with ripe strawberries and mulch straw. We all pick berries contently for the first hour until the girls lose interest and start throwing dirt balls at each other. Dan and I dismiss the girls to paddle the canoe in the pond, catching minnows, frogs, and crayfish with a butterfly net. He and I continue picking for another hour and a half until all the ripe berries have been harvested. Our hands sticky and red, we load the full berry flats into the wagon. I climb in the back of the wagon, but the girls choose to continue playing in the pond. As Dan drives out of the field, muddy Polly runs behind.
Our farm is a year old, and based on our experiences in the family strawberry patch and harvesting our vegetables last year, this is what we expect things will be like this summer, the first year we will be selling our strawberries. We’ll be harvesting Honeoyes, a mid-season variety, and we expect them to be ready in late June.
We purchased our 20 acres of rolling hills (with a spring-fed pond and a gorgeous view of Camel’s Hump) in 1994, and the Needham Family Farm was founded in 2009. We sell certified organic asparagus, strawberries, raspberries, mixed vegetables, cut flowers, pumpkins, pastured poultry, and eggs. Evelyn, Eileen, and I also make jelly, jams, salsa, and gourmet desserts with our own fruit and eggs. And with our strawberries, we make this pie recipe—one of our favorites!
This pie crust recipe is an adaptation of my mother’s recipe. The original called for shortening, but I have replaced it with butter for a transfat-free crust, using local Cabot butter. The maple, strawberry, rhubarb filling is my own twist on a traditional pie filling and also a way to use a locally available sweetener and local produce.