Last month, my brother Lonnie Scott, Bobcat Properties Farm, wrote about his experience in an unexpected storm that came through the Farmer’s Market in the parking lot of Gen Ivy Hot Springs Spa in Joseph Canyon, California. He sells honey from the farm and has a “mascot bee”, Hanna. This blog is a response to his story with a similar story of our own about a storm coming through Rayville, where our winery is, just 2 days before his storm! I am just having some fun as our mascot, Strawberry Shortcake is being re-introduced! Life has been so full this summer with wine, pizza and the experience at the winery, that we are just have a little fun here!
Hi Lonnie, this is Strawberry Shortcake. I live at the Van Till Family Farm & Winery. I am the Senior strawberry plant. Since Farm to Table is the theme around here, the community of strawberry plants in the towers are responsible for producing the strawberries for the Strawberry Salad and Strawberry Shortcake for the Patio Dining and strawberries for the Farmstead Strawberry Spread that is sold at Christmas in the Wine Shop. Though we can’t produce all the strawberries for the Strawberry Festival Wine that is made here also, we do play an important role around here in the greenhouse. We help out during the tours, showing the guests how happy we are growing in the towers in the greenhouse!
All the plants are pulled at the end of the season, which is around this time of the year, but I always hide and overwinter somewhere and then get back into the strawberry towers (we don’t have ‘runners’ for nothing!) just in time for the beginning of the next growing season in February. I live a secret life here! It is amazing what you can do with phones these days, as I have secretly posted on The Van Till Farms and Winery Facebook page as far back as 2010. I kept a bit of a journal from a plant’s point of view and posted on Facebook. I made a lot of friends. I have since retired from strawberry production, but I am still
around and keep an eye on things.
Hanna, the Honey Bee, probably has made a lot of friends at the farmers market too, and who knows, maybe she has a blog somewhere or she is on Facebook, or both!
It sounds like you had an experience just like we had out here. The Wednesday night, before your Saturday morning experience, Cliff and Brian were coming back from Ladoga Ridge Winery, which is a winery in our Great Northwest Missouri Wine Trail Association and it is located about 45 minutes west of us. They had been helping at the winery and were on their way home in the evening. As they were heading back, a storm with near straight line winds and rain was moving fast, right toward Rayville. They called Debbie and told her to get ready! She took down the farmers market umbrella that was over the pool, so the wind wouldn’t pick it up and sail it over the house. Even though that did happen quite a few years ago and it was found, undamaged, in the front yard upside down the morning after a wild storm, she didn’t want to risk it this time.
Then, Debbie ran to the shop to close the big roll up door so the bags of cement that were being used to finish The Secret Garden wouldn’t get wet, as the winds now were blowing like mad.
Me, I was in the greenhouse when the winds kicked up. Cliff forgot to tell her to roll up the sides of the greenhouse, so the wind just blew right through, and took out the 2 rows of strawberry towers!
I wasn’t hurt, I could see it coming. Just like you I tried to warn the others, but all I could do was get to safety. I had remembered the “stop, drop and roll” in the literature for training when Cliff was a Wood Heights Fire Department Volunteer. I needed something to read during those lonely winter nights that I was in hiding! Yes, Cliff had great foresight when he built the greenhouse, it has lights!
As you can see in the before and after picture, the greenhouse isn’t the same!
But, as I mentioned in the beginning, the strawberries were just about finished. Last week the boys took the soil and plants to the compost pile and refilled the towers and got everything swept up.
You wouldn’t have even known that this was home to 500 strawberry plants!
Well, it is time to go. We have another tour coming through this Friday and I need to supervise the changing of the guard in the greenhouse. The cucumbers, though they have been sharing space this summer, are acquiring more space and the strawberry towers are now being converted to Tomato Towers, so the grape tomatoes can garnish the salads served on the Patio. These guys, the cucumber and tomaotes, do a good job in showing people how their food comes from a farm, but I act in an advisory capacity to them, helping them do a great job!.
The winery is busy today too! The grape harvest is on and there is juice running through a stemmer crusher, 2 pumps and a big bladdar press. Cliff is having a grand time! He loves the stainless steel tanks and valves. Last year, when the tanks were full and harvest was finished, he had so much fun, that he wanted to get more grapes and tanks so he could keep working with his equipment!
He is a happy man these days!
I would like to meet Hanna the Honey Bee someday, she sounds like she is a great asset to your farmers market experience! Maybe I could learn some people skills from her, since she hangs out at a spa and goes to the farmers market every week. I have tasted your honey and used your lip balm, they are both good.
Well, good-bye from Van Till Family Farm & Winery, where you will find
Wine, Pizza and The Experience.