The first of May signals the first crop of strawberries for our area farmers.
One grower got an early start this year. We visited the Mann Family Farms where the crop is ripe for the picking.
The season's first strawberries are going out as fast as they're comming in. "We're doing well, especially for no word, no advertising, no anything. Just people calling looking for the first berries," David Mann tells us.
Two of those customers were Vivian and Garland George. They came all the way from Jewel Ridge, about an hour away. "The berries, they have good products. Top of the line products," the couple said.
About 800 gallons of the delicious little red fruits were picked this morning. The labor-intensive work could not be accomplished without migrant workers from Mexico. "We get the same workers every year. It's on the H-2A program. They come the 25th of April, and they they go home on the first of November," Mann says. The H-2A program is a federal work visa program.
The federal government is also monitoring the use of particular chemicals on the fields, when workers can be in the fields, and when can the crop be harvested. "Everyone has a different label, different times on re-entering. You may be able to re-enter but can't harvest for certain days. Each fungicide and pesticide is different on that," Mann said.
One of the main reasons for the success of the farm is the 'buy local' movement picked up by our local grocery stores. "We were just kind of puttering along selling them, but then we got hooked up with a local chain store. Then [sales] really went well," he said.
About as well as the first day of harvest.
Tennessee's strawberry season is also going strong. Scott's Strawberries should be available beginning early next week.