Ripe for the picking in Great Village

Raissa Tetanish
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Published on July 07, 2014

Tom Bowers carries a flat of strawberries to put on display at the market stand in Great Village. For 50 years the family farm has been producing and selling the fruit, with this year’s crop coming back full force after the aphid virus. Raissa Tetanish – Truro Daily News

Published on July 07, 2014

Strawberries draw in customer after customer for Tom Bowers and Bowers Berries in Great Village. Halfway through the season, strawberry farmers locally are seeing flavourful crops. Raissa Tetanish – Truro Daily News

Published on July 07, 2014

Fresh, homemade strawberry shortcake is one of the things Alicia Bowers is ready to whip up from the Bowers Berries market stand in Great Village. With a kitchen on site, the biscuits are freshly made and berries mashed for those customers wanting an extra treat. Raissa Tetanish – Truro Daily News

Published on July 07, 2014

Alicia Bowers, of Bowers Berries, is the main face behind the counter at the family’s market stand in Great Village. Local strawberries are a big hit this year, packing a punch of flavour after the aphid virus destroyed crops last year. Raissa Tetanish – Truro Daily News

Published on July 07, 2014

Strawberries fresh from the Bowers family’s crop in Great Village. Raissa Tetanish – Truro Daily News

Strawberry season flying high after year of virus

GREAT VILLAGE – Halfway through the strawberry season, Tom Bowers feels like he’s finally defeated the enemy.

That’s because this year’s crop is the best the family farm has seen in the past few years.

“It is a lot easier to fight a war when you know your enemy,” said Bowers, regarding the aphid virus that destroyed many strawberry farmers’ crops, including his family’s last year. “We’ve benefited from the virus, as this is our best crop we’ve had in the last number of years.”

“We had known for a few years that they weren’t producing well, but didn’t know why,” added Bowers’ wife, Alicia.

After plowing under the crops last year, the family – which includes the couple’s two children, Adam and Kate, and Bowers’ twin sister, Michelle – planted 9,000 strawberry plants for this year’s harvest, with another 9,000 planted this year for next.

“We have three acres of strawberries, and we do have a good crop this year,” Bowers said.

That’s evident by the first customer of the day bringing in four empty quarts while purchasing another two to take home.

“I enjoy absolutely nothing about this,” said Bowers joking and laughing. “No, I enjoy the people that you see year after year, and knowing that they’re liking the strawberries.”

“The big thing is our customers,” added Alicia.

For 50 years the Bowers family has farmed strawberries, with the first crop being picked the year Bowers and his twin sister were born.

Last year’s virus was the first time the family didn’t have a season.

“We almost found it surreal. It came as a big shock to us,” said Bowers.

But that didn’t stop the family from continuing on and they started picking around the 20th of June this year.

“Canada Day was our biggest day,” said Alicia. “But we’re able to keep up with the demand. Our biggest problem is that they’re coming on so quickly that we have lots to sell, but because we sell at stands, it’s just getting them out there.”

Including family members, the Bowers have about 15 people working in the strawberry fields.

“We have a very dedicated bunch of pickers, many who have been with us for years,” said Bowers. “We’d be lost without them.”

Both Bowers and Alicia say the strawberry business is typical to any farm, in that the kids start helping out as soon as they’re able.

Along with selling fresh strawberries from a market stand on their property, the Bowers also offer fresh biscuits and strawberry shortcake made on site in a kitchen. Michelle, said Bowers, makes the biscuits fresh every day, and shortcake is available for purchase.

“The strawberry varieties that we grow tend to have a more of an old-fashioned strawberry taste to them,” said Bowers. “They’re made to be picked and sold, they wouldn’t ship well.”

To keep up to date on Bowers Berries, including when the market stand is open, visit ‘Bowers Berries’ on Facebook.

 

rtetanish@trurodaily.com

Twitter: @TDNRaissa

Geographic location: Great Village

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  • Judi deLange
    July 08, 2014 - 10:39

    Have you seen this yet?