Strawberry picking season is just around the corner, and Circle S Farms in Laguardo is ready to oblige all the berry lovers with rows of them available for visitors to pick as soon as the weather agrees.
The farm played host to media day with Pick Tennessee Products on Thursday to give an idea of just what the farm has to offer.
"Three years ago we started media days to get information out of Tennessee products and to let people know about all the great things that are available in Tennessee," said Tennessee Department of Agriculture's Pamela Bartholomew.
Circle S features the ever-popular strawberries along with it's newer crops – soon-to-be available blueberries and blackberries.
"All of the pick your owns and farmer's markets have great things to offer," said Bartholomew. "Each of them offers something family oriented and we are really glad to be here."
According to Donnie Steed, his family got a "wild hair" to plant some strawberries several years ago, and they now have 40,000 strawberry plants. Newer additions to the crops are pick-your-own blueberries and blackberries, which will be available in late spring.
“All fruits sweeten best in hot, sunny weather,” said Bartholomew, “but Tennessee’s cool, wet spring has actually prolonged the growing process. The cold has thinned out some strawberries, but that’s actually a good thing, too, since the remaining berries will get a bigger share of their plant’s nourishment. It all adds up to a great crop."
Farms such as Circle S are part of what department of agriculture officials call "agritourism." Bartholomew said there are 700 farms throughout the state that participate in such ventures. Whether it be a pick-your-own farm, a pumpkin patch, or even a corn maze, all of these fall into the agritourism category.
"We've had people from Brentwood, Franklin and other places come to the farm," Steed said. "They didn't come for the berries; they came for the experience."
Circle S is a Century Farm, and according to Steed has been in his family since 1839. It is known in the Century Farm registry as the Graves-Wright Farm. In addition to the berries, there are also cows, chickens, goats and other livestock.
Last year, the Steed family started school-age field trips to give the children a glimpse of life on the farm.
"What I've done is cut a road through the farm, and we take trailers through with the kids; they get an up-close look at the cows and can get a hands-on idea of what we do here on the farm," he said.
They have also added Christmas trees to the list of available products.
"We have something for every season," Steed said.
For more information about Circle S Farm, visit tncirclesfarms.com.