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June on the home farm meant strawberry-time. My mother was in charge of our half acre or so patch of the lush, beautiful red berries. It was one of Ma’s money-making projects; the other major one was the chicken flock and the sale of eggs.

Beyond the strawberries for our own use, Ma opened her strawberry patch to town folks on a “pick your own” basis. She sold them by the quart picked—and found herself reminding the town pickers that heaping the quart box too far beyond its rim was a “no-no.” I remember hearing her muttering, “Some of them folks pile two quarts of berries in a one-quart berry box.”

Everyone picked strawberries in quart boxes, like the one pictured above. Pa, my two brothers and I also picked lots of strawberries. Ma traded crates of them—16 quarts to a crate—for groceries at the Wild Rose Mercantile. My dad, brothers and I peddled strawberries to the cottage owners scattered around the lakes east of Wild Rose. They were easy to sell.

And we ate strawberries, three times a day. On our cornflakes for breakfast, strawberry shortcake for lunch, and if we were lucky, a strawberry pie for supper. Sometimes, we made strawberry sandwiches by mashing a few red ripe strawberries between two thick slices of home-made bread. Ma also made jar after jar of strawberry jam, which we enjoyed all winter.

In Old Farm Country Cookbook, that my daughter and I wrote, you’ll find several of my mother’s strawberry recipes.

THE OLD-TIMER SAYS: What would a day in June be without strawberries?

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work go to www.jerryapps.com. 

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