Strawberries being sought for Strawberry Market

CHARLESTON— Fresh, locally grown strawberries are being sought after for this year’s West Virginia Strawberry Festival.

The West Virginia Strawberry Festival began in 1936, as a way to honor the strawberry growers, promote strawberry harvest and to help growers increase their sales, by using the locally gown berries to stock a “Strawberry Market” during the festival.

The Annual Strawberry Festival, held in Buckhannon, is set to kick off on May 13, and run through May 21. The strawberry market will take place on May 20-21.

According to a press release, the West Virginia Strawberry Board, the City of Buckhannon and the West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA), are working together with private farmers to put on the sale.

The sale is held auction style, with an aim of boosting the amount of WV strawberries consumed during the long-running festival.

“West Virginia has such diverse terrains and climates throughout the state. This event is a great opportunity for West Virginia’s farmers to showcase the variety of crops that can be grown locally,” commented Commissioner of Agriculture, Kent Leonhardt. “For residents of the area it is a reminder of West Virginia’s agricultural heritage.”

Although local growers have been able to produce small amounts of berries for the traditional sale, the retail sales of WV berries have been nearly non-existent for decades, causing a very limited number of growers to be able to provide berries for the strawberry market. However, with the average American eating three and a half pounds of strawberries per year, the demand is much higher than the supply.

“The festival falls quite early to have field-grown berries and we’ve only been able to put together about 200 pints each of the past three years,” said WVDA sale organizer Buddy Davidson. “But we really saw a jump in the number of growers participating last year so we might be on the verge of having a really big year in 2017.”

For more information on how to participate, contact WVDA Communications Officer, Buddy Davidson at 304-588-3708.

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