Jones Farms celebrates 'Golden Anniversary' of growing strawberries

Strawberries at Jones Farms should be ready to pick this month. The family farm has been growing strawberries for 50 years.

Strawberries at Jones Farms should be ready to pick this month. The family farm has been growing strawberries for 50 years.

This week, Terry Jones of Jones Family Farms in Shelton will celebrate a tradition he began 50 years ago as a young teenager: setting out thousands of baby strawberry plants.

“I guess you might call it more of a ‘Strawberry Red Anniversary’ than the typical ‘Golden Anniversary’ that honors a half century of tradition,” said Jones.  “Since it takes a year for the plants to begin production, it’s a two-year celebration.

“In 2013, we are recognizing the 50th anniversary of planting the ‘Queen of Fruits’ and 2014 will mark the 50th harvest,” he said.

 

A half century ago

Jones remembers well that day, 50 years ago, when he set up the strawberry transplanter on his new Farmall 140 tractor (still in use today)

“My late aunt, Ruth Jones, and my cousin, Melissa, sat on the machine feeding the tiny strawberries into the plant pockets. From my vantage point on the tractor seat, I looked back down the row and they were all upside-down with the roots pointed skyward,” Jones said. “We’ve learned a lot over the years.”

 

May be state’s oldest commercial grower

According to the Connecticut Commissioner of Agriculture, Steven K. Reviczky, Terry Jones may be the state’s oldest commercial grower having continuously planted strawberries for 50 years.

Two aspects of strawberries have remained constant over the last half-century, according to Jones. First, the consistent challenge of the weather. This spring is no exception.  The last week of May started with 28 degrees and frost at Jones’ Valley Farm and ended with three days of highs in the mid-90s.  In both cases, the plants and fruit were protected by irrigation sprinklers.

“The second constant,” said Jones, “is the excitement and passion of our farm guests to harvest and to taste the sweet goodness of the first, ripe strawberries of the season!”

 

Ripening now

Jones’ strawberries are ripening now, as they normally do in early June, in contrast to last year’s record early start in May.

Jones Family Farms is located off Route 110 in Shelton.  For more information regarding hours of operation, picking locations and picking tips, visitors can call the Farmer Jones crop info line at 203-929-8425, visit the Jones website at www.jonesfamilyfarms.com/farm/strawberries, their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/jonesfamilyfarms, or follow them on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jonesfamilyfarm.

 

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