Nature’s rubies, slightly hidden by green, leafy rooftops, glistened under Sunday sun at Bellamy Farms.
The plump, juicy strawberries allowed their sweet perfume to sail on a breeze, beckoning lovers to pick them – their tactic worked.
Strawberry devotees in Loris are among those visiting farms in Horry County and beyond to get their fix of the fruit before intense heat ends their red reign.
Although estimates vary, some area farmers predict the season could last until the second week of June, if temperatures aren’t consistently in the 90s.
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“The season started early this year, March 1st,” said Bobby Anderson, owner of Anderson Farms in Conway. “I think it’s been a good season for us.”
Anderson, who also owns Magnolia’s at 26th Restaurant in Myrtle Beach, grows three varieties of strawberries: chandler, camarosa and sweet charlie.
“They are all great,” Anderson said. “They are so good they make you want to kiss the baby or kiss them.”
Growers and gastronomes of this glorious fruit are charmed by one of the healthiest foods on Earth.
“Strawberries contain iron, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin B-6, vitamin K, vitamin E, vitamin C and other nutrients,’’ said Kelly Metz, a registered nurse and avid gardener who lives in Pawleys Island. “So, that is boatload of heavenly goodness in those red, little berries. The sweeter the berries, the riper the berries, the better they taste.”
Metz said strawberries are also treasured, in part, because of their faithful presence in our past.
“Before folks had the resources to buy fancy chocolates and things you had to trade or barter for, strawberries were always on hand,” Metz said. “People substituted strawberries for cakes, candies and cookies because they were considered a treat. If you went over to someone’s house, one of the first things they would offer you were berries, strawberries specifically, because they are so very sweet, easy to grow and readily available.”
Elliott Abernethy, a first-grader at Coastal Montessori Charter School in Pawleys Island, enjoys strawberries every opportunity she gets.
“They are good, and they are juicy, and they are red, which is my favorite color,” she said one day after eating a cup of sliced strawberries packed inside her lunch box.
Curtis Gore, a North Myrtle Beach resident, is also intimately acquainted with strawberries. His wife, Sadie, to whom he has been married 55 years, makes fresh strawberry jelly every season and shares jars with family and friends. For at least 20 years, they’ve gotten their succulent reds from Bellamy Farms.
“Strawberries are simply delicious,” Gore said as he gathered two gallons at Bellamy’s Farm on Mother’s Day. “You can eat them with ice cream. You can make strawberry shortcake. You know, there are so many ways you can eat them. My favorite is strawberry jelly. Every morning, I eat it on toast.”
Sarah Zalewski favors strawberries naked.
“They are my go-to fruit,” said Zalewski, a dancer and gymnastics coach who just started her journey as a vegan. “I could eat them nonstop.”
However, her younger sister, Lauren Zalewski, eats her strawberries after she’s dipped them into sugar.
“Whenever I see red juice in the sugar bowl, I know who did it,” said Elizabeth Zalewski, their mother, as she recently joined them and Lauren’s boyfriend, Brent Justice, to gather about four gallons of strawberries at Bellamy Farms. The family first visited the farm a decade ago. It was a memorable trip because they spent $90 solely on strawberries.
“We probably had over a hundred dollars worth of strawberries because we ate a lot while picking them,” Elizabeth Zalewski said.
Brenton Tyler, of Tyler’s Farms and Tyler’s Produce #2, both in Conway, said he’s watched people pick strawberries and eat them right away.
They leave with hands and mouths stained red, without caring of the cost, because they respect and relish the fact that strawberries are boss.
Contact Johanna D. Wilson at JohannasCarolinaCharacters@gmail.com or to suggest subjects for an upcoming column.
This listing is only comprised of the U-Pick Strawberries listed in this story. To learn more these and other about U-Pick Strawberry Farms in South Carolina, visit https://agriculture.sc.gov/divisions/agricultural-services/agritourism/agritourism-farms/.
Where: 5700 Privetts Road, Conway
Operating hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekly
U-Pick cost: $12 per gallon
Call: (843) 385-7574
Where: 4347 SC 9, Loris
Operating hours: 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekly
U-Pick cost: $15 per gallon
Call: (843) 756-6741
Where: 4800 US 378, Conway
Operating hours: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday
U-Pick cost: 99 per pound
Call: (843) 397-6362
Tyler’s Produce #2
Where: 3239 US 701 N, Conway
Operating hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday
U-Pick cost: 99 cents per pound
Call: (843) 365-6362