Friday, May 18, 2012

Our First Visit to A Local S.C. Farm

Yesterday, C. and I headed out of the house to go visit a farm out in Holly Hill, SC. After doing some searching on the Charleston City Paper's website, I was able to find a list of local farms that had been reviewed by the paper. The one that was closest to us was Hickory Bluff Farms and was about a 20 minute drive to our West. They had U-pick strawberry fields, which was our main reason for visiting. Who doesn't love fresh right-off-the-vine strawberries?

When we turned into the dirt driveway we saw that it was a nice-sized farm, not too big. There were strawberry fields on our left extending for a ways towards the distant tree line, some other fields to our right, and a nice farm stand. We parked and went over to the stand. We were greeted by an older woman shucking strawberries and once we explained that we were after the strawberries, we were given a gallon bucket. The price per pound was unbeatable at $1.59. We filled the entire bucket and it only cost us about 8 dollars, what a deal! Now, just the very fact that C. and I can pick strawberries at this time of year is amazing. Being from Maine I find my self in a constant state of surprise at how early some things can be harvested down here. In Maine, the strawberries aren't ready until July usually.

Before we picked strawberries, we wandered through the tables of container flowers and veggie plants they had under a tent. I distinctly remember be very surprised at the sight of a little lizard scampering across the table. Oh, the abundance of creepy crawly things in South... I didn't mind the lizard though. In fact he was sort of cute. But back to the plants. They had the regular annuals (petunias, impatiens, etc.) but they also had 7 or 8 varieties of tomato, a couple varieties of cucumber, and a handful of different pepper plants.

After reading so many blogs about tomatoes recently (and specifically about how to grow tomatoes in containers) I was adamant about getting a couple tomato plants. After looking at all the different kinds, C. and I decided on Roma (the other variety that we recognized we liked and wasn't a huge tomato like a Brandywine) and a variety called "Early Girl" which we knew nothing about and bought on a whim. With the eight tomatoes plants (four of each type, they only sold them in 4-packs) and the strawberries in our arms, we cheerfully went over to the farmstand to purchase our goods. Enticed by the sign saying "fresh eggs" and the container of fresh squash in front of me, we also got 1 1/2 dozen eggs, 2 summer squash, and 1 large zucchini. See?

After engaging in conversation with our farm hosts, we found out the older man also served in the Navy. We also found out that the South does not generally grow Rhubarb, unlike in Maine. But, that didn't stop me from buying my own rhubarb to make an apple strawberry-rhubarb-crisp (which was delicious). The South does grow blueberries, which I found surprising. The blueberries will be ready to pick in about 10 days, so we will be going back since C. really wants me to make blueberry muffins.

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