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Stawberry Patch Yields College Fund
When Dennis and Terry Hand of Fillmore, Ill., thought about how to get their five girls through college, they didn't think about scholarship, loans and work study. They thought "strawberries."
  Dennis is an entrepreneurial sort of guy who, with his brother Bernard, farms and runs a roofing business. He figured he could make a berry operation work, too.
  Hand, with the help of his wife, Terry, and daughters Ida, 12; Taylor, 11; Devon, 9; Kali, 6; and Emma, 15 months, work the patch to produce a long-term profit.
  In 2003, they turned about an acre of pasture into a 7,000-plant strawberry patch. In order to produce better quality berries in the future, they didn't sell any that first year.
  The Hands sell three varieties of berries: Honeoye, which is an early variety, and Jewel and Allstar, which produce berries later in the season. While some visitors claim the Honeoye is sweeter than the rest, Terry isn't sure. "They taste the same to me," she says.
  Because of good weather this year, the season started on May 13 and yielded three weeks of production which was sold at farmers markets and other area locations. Depending on the weather, "strawberry picking season" is between 3 and 4 weeks long.
  The patch is both a U-pick and ready picked. The Hands charge $1.00 per lb. for those wanting to pick their own strawberries. Grandpa Alfred Hand works the farmer's markets. Grandma Eloise boxes berries and waits on customers.
  Terry says the patch doesn't take too much work and isn't costly to maintain because they have most of the equipment needed. To keep the strawberries from growing too many stringers, she says they cultivate the patch. The girls help with that along with weeding and picking the berries.
  Their business fits well with the community's initiative to encourage direct marketing of pasture fed broilers, eggs produced by hens on the pasture and pastured beef.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Dennis Hand 22394 Hawk Ave., Fillmore, Ill. 62032 (ph 217 538-2081).

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2004 - Volume #28, Issue #5