February has been a fabulously busy month for the Florida Strawberry Growers Association – in the field, in the office and around our community. We’ve been celebrating the peak of our season through a variety of projects.
Earlier this month we shipped beautiful hot pink tins filled with our strawberries to weathercasters from Chicago to Miami, Atlanta to Boston, Milwaukee to Charlotte, and from Asheville to Cincinnati.
For the second year we promoted Fabulous Florida Strawberry Month by educating the media and consumers in many of the very markets that purchase our winter strawberries.
At the same time that news crews in the Midwest and East Coast were enjoying berries from the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World, we were doing research to ensure that Florida´s strawberries continue to be the sweetest, reddest and most flavorful. Working through our sister organization, the Florida Strawberry Research and Education Foundation, we´re conducting taste tests of a new variety developed to be even sweeter!
We organized comparative taste test surveys with two very different groups. One was done with the help of the Central Florida Chapter of the American Culinary Federation. We traveled to Orlando to survey members during one of their chapter meetings to get the opinions of food experts with a trained palate.
Later the same week, we surveyed consumers at the State Fair of Florida. In both tests, we asked participants to taste and compare two different varieties of berries and rate them for taste, appearance, texture and fragrance. Stay tuned for the results and updates on the new variety and its availability.
The FSGA office staff and some wonderful volunteer farmers are working feverishly to get our yearly exhibit ready for the 80th Annual Florida Strawberry Festival that kicks off Feb. 26 and runs through March 8.
We built a miniature version of an actually strawberry field, including a rustic cabin where festival-goers can literally “Ask a Farmer” anything about the business of growing and harvesting strawberries and the life of a strawberry farmer. A separate FSGA booth also sells merchandise and hands out educational materials.
The festival would be a great adventure for a food blogger. The 11-day community event celebrates the strawberry harvest of Eastern Hillsborough County. Each year, over 500,000 visitors enjoy headline entertainment, youth livestock shows, exhibits of commerce and, its world-famous strawberry shortcake. For more information, visit www.flstrawberryfestival.com.
If we weren’t already busy enough, we also want to remind you that National Strawberry Day is celebrated Feb. 27.
Our season runs November through early April, and we ship fresh from our fields to locations east of the Mississippi and from Florida north through parts of Canada.