Sweet Pickings

Spring is officially upon us, and with it comes a desire to get outside and enjoy what just might be the finest weather of the year in southeast Louisiana. It is also the season to enjoy the many flowering plants our region has to offer, including one of my favorites, the strawberry.

You might be surprised to learn that the strawberry isn’t a berry at all but is actually a flowering fruit plant, thus the seeds on the outside of the strawberry. We are fortunate that our climate accommodates the strawberry so well and, therefore, we have many strawberry farms in close proximity. There are several of these farms that are open to the public and allow you to come and pick your own strawberries from the plants in their fields.

Pick Your Own

A quick drive north on Interstate 55 drops you in the Ponchatoula and Hammond area, where you’ll find the Landry-Poche Strawberry Farm, Mrs. Heather’s Strawberry Patch and the Blahut Strawberry Farm. Your children or grandchildren will love getting down in the dirt and actually selecting and picking their own delicious snacks from plants in the ground. The strawberry season typically peaks by the beginning of April and goes through May depending on specific weather conditions, so now is the perfect time!

What You Need

Remember that you’ll be out in the direct sun while picking your strawberries, so sunscreen and a hat are a must. Tennis shoes or other closed-toe shoes are preferable since you’re walking on bare ground. Most strawberry farms provide a bucket or pail for you to fill and the price is set accordingly. Typical prices run about $15 per bucket. Some facilities also offer additional activities such as face-painting or a zipline. If you happen to have a spring baby in your house, some of the farms also offer birthday party packages. Each farm’s website has their details, including specific hours and days of operation, prices and directions.

Festival Features

Ponchatoula loves their strawberries so much that every year they have a festival to celebrate! This year the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival takes place Friday, April 9-Sunday, April 10. The event is centered around the Memorial Park area and includes a full line-up of bands on north and south stages, including cover bands Triggerproof, Supercharger and Bag of Donuts closing out each.

The true star of the festival is, of course, the strawberry. It takes center stage in a multitude of different events including a strawberry eating contest and a strawberry cook-off. You will also be tempted by delicious strawberry delicacies, including strawberry shortcake, deep-fired strawberries and cinnamon-sugar strawberries. The festival also has a farmer’s market where you can treat yourself to fresh, locally made jams, jellies and freshly picked strawberries. It would be difficult to go home with empty hands or an empty stomach.

Louisiana is blessed with many natural treasures, but to the people in Tangipahoa, Livingston, Washington and St. Tammany parishes, the strawberry tops the list. The Louisiana State legislature agreed with them and voted to name the strawberry the official state fruit of Louisiana in 2001.

Choices, Choices

So either join the estimated 300,000 people who flock to Ponchatoula for the Strawberry Festival or explore a strawberry patch with a more intimate group, but make sure you indulge in fresh Louisiana strawberries this season.

Strawberry Discoveries

Pick-your-owns farms:

• Landry-Poche Strawberry Farm: LandryPocheFarms.com

• Mrs. Heather’s Strawberry Patch: ThFarms.com

• Blahut Strawberry Farm: Blahutstrawberryfarm.com

Pontchatoula Strawberry Festival:

• April 8-10

• Memorial Park and North Sixth Street, Ponchatoula




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