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A ‘berry’ delicious treat

Located off Hughes Road is a booth where Mary Touchton sells strawberries from Dennison's Farm.

Located off Hughes Road in the parking lot in front of Hartlex Antique Mall is a little red booth.

Mary Touchton, the bookkeeper and strawberry salesperson for Dennison’s Farm, sets up shop with gallons upon gallons of strawberries throughout the week.

The farm itself is located in Elora, Tenn.

The amount of strawberries brought to the booth can vary.

“The primary thing it depends on is how many we have altogether, because we have four booths, plus we have a little school bus that we painted red,” Touchton explained. “And we carry it to locations where we can’t set up a booth and leave it. So we try to distribute the berries out, say in the morning if we have 200 gallons, we try to break them down so that some go to each location.”

However, Touchton explained that at this time, toward the end of strawberry season, there may only be 50 or 60 gallons that come in each day. So they take turns distributing them at different locations.

Locations include Madison; Fayetteville, Tenn.; Winchester, Tenn. and a rotating one that’s currently in Columbia, Tenn.

Touchton explained the best ways to store strawberries.

For fresh berries, it is wise to refrigerate them.

“You never want to wash them before you put them in the fridge because it will make them sour,” Touchton said. “If we bring berries down here to the booth that have been in the cooler already, then you definitely want to take them straight to the fridge.”

She said many people put the strawberries in an airtight container and spread them out single-file.

“Some of my customers say their berries can last up to 10 days doing them that way,” Touchton said.

There are a couple ideal ways to freeze strawberries.

One suggestion is to cut the caps off and seal them in a Ziploc bag.

“The downfall to that is the majority of the times when you take it out of the freezer and thaw it out, you have kind of a clump of berries,” Touchton said. “That’d be fine if you were making pies or cakes or something, but just to eat them—it wouldn’t be as easy to eat.”

The other option is to spread the berries out individually on a cookie sheet. Then, after they’re frozen, put them in a Ziploc bag. That way whole, individual berries can be pulled out of the bag.

Although strawberry season may be quickly coming to a close, Dennison’s Farm offers many other produce items.

“We have individual vegetables that people can purchase at the farm,” Touchton explained, “or we have our CSA program—which is Community Supported Agriculture. It’s a contract that people enter into with us, and for 10 weeks they receive a half-a-bushel box of vegetables once a week for 10 weeks.”

CSA membership is $300. Membership for half-shares, available for pickup every other week, is $175. The balance is due at the first pickup. Vegetables available include eggplant, onions, tomatoes, squash, sweet corn, peppers and pumpkin, among others. Applications are available at DennisonsFarm.com.

For those interested, applications need to be filled out soon, as vegetables will be brought to the various locations sometime between mid-June and early July.

Interested in buying vegetables, but not sure what to do with them? Don’t fear. Dennison’s Farm’s website is filled with recipes for many of their produce items.

For more information about the CSA program, call the veggie info line at (931) 937-8162.

There are many advantages to buying locally-grown food.

“You know who grew them and you know what’s been done to them,” Touchton explained. “It’s always better to buy local. Our berries are red all the way through and have a flavor to them all the way through, where a lot of the berries you get at the store are really pretty and really big on the outside, but then they’re white on the inside.”

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