Spring is strawberry season on farms across the the Southern U.S. We recently visited Landry-Poche Farms in Holden, Louisiana, a Louisiana Strawberry Festival winner for our own strawberry farm tour.
I must admit, of all Southern grown foods, berries are my favorite—sweet, juicy strawberries to be specific. Few things in this life are quite as delicious and provide such versatility. Imagine a life without strawberry jam, fresh berries in salads, parfaits, and heaven forbid… strawberry shortcake! We pickle strawberries, mix them in smoothies, bake them in biscuits, muddle them in cocktails and make incredible salad dressings with them. My family loves them! And behind every strawberry is a farm that grows them. Meet the Poche and Landry families of south Louisiana.
The Beginning of Landry-Poche Farms
Santos Bazile arrived in the U.S. on a Merchants & Marine boat nearly a century ago. As a young man, while in our foreign land, he fell in love. Faced with having to leave his love behind, he faked a fever so that he wouldn’t be allowed to board for the voyage back home. Bazile raised a family and eventually learned strawberry farming, involving his children, and then their children. This is where the Landry-Poche Farm began.
Now, nearly a century and four generations later, Rhonda Poche meets with groups and visitors on the farm giving insight into strawberry farming. Her mom and dad, Janice and Ronald Landry, still own the farm and are involved, making it a multigenerational operation. During my visit, they were hosting a group of second graders on a field trip. I joined the kids in the field as they picked, and ate, a multitude of strawberries. They had a blast, but the real treat was was watching the children’s minds light up before my eyes. Most, from inner city New Orleans, had never been to a farm. They were fascinated to learn how food grows, that farmers are real everyday people, and that most everything we eat is from a farm.
On the Landry-Poche Farm, crops are rotated throughout the year, with strawberries being planted in October. The plants are in rows with drip irrigation underneath, for easier and more precise watering. During the winter, they are protected with “blankets”, thin sheets of anti-frost, thermal material that wrap entire rows of crops. Once spring comes, the plants begin to flower and precisely 21 day after, bright red berries can be harvested. This process continues throughout strawberry season which lasts from mid-March to mid-May, give or take a few weeks, until it gets too hot for the berries to produce. Then the family turns the plants into the soil before planting the following crop – usually a cover crop such as peas or red beans. Once that season is over they turn plants under again, have the soil tested, make any needed adjustments, and then begin the process all over again.
Landry-Poche Farms was recently awarded the coveted Louisiana Strawberry Festival “Grand Champion” award! Be sure to pay a visit before the season ends. The farm offers flats of their delicious berries, but also invites families to come and pick their own berries! Check out all the details on their website or connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.
>> Landry-Poche Farms is located at 29955 Richardson Drive in Holden, Louisiana. They are open Monday – Friday from 7 AM – 5 PM, Saturday from 7 AM- 4 PM, and Sunday from 9 AM – 5 PM, but ONLY through mid-May.
>> After you visit the farm and pick a flat of strawberries, check out our tips on how to save the season and so all the goodness of all those fresh berries doesn’t spoil!