For some people, spring means fresh asparagus.
But I grew up in the country, where asparagus grew wild and we called it "bouquet grass" because it looked pretty with flowers.
For us, spring was strawberries. The first really ripe ones, if you could stand to wait long enough, were little explosions of sweet flavor. I had an aunt who was so fond of strawberries that she would go along the rows turning them over so the green side would ripen just a little faster.
If you usually buy your strawberries from the grocery store, you may be in for a big shock when you find out what strawberries grown at a local farm taste like.
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Berry season has begun in earnest in Central Kentucky now, and there are several places that you can pick berries or buy them freshly picked.
Most places will have strawberries for the next few weeks. If you buy a flat of eight quarts, sometimes the price is a bit better, and you can freeze them for winter, make easy jam or try a few recipes.
■ Boyd Orchards, 1396 Pinckard Pike in Versailles. (859) 873-3097. Closed Monday; open 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, noon to 7 p.m. Sunday.
Owner Terry Boyd said they allow a limited amount of "you-pick" berries but have pre-picked strawberries available in the store for about the same price, $5.75 a quart. Or you can get a flat for $33.
"Most people buy a flat," Boyd said. He has three varieties: the very popular Earliglow, Darselect and Cabot.
"Earliglow has the highest sugar content of any strawberry in the United States. There's no equal to it," Boyd said. "They are smaller, don't yield as well, but they're still sought after. People don't care about the price."
Fresh farm strawberries may seem high in price compared to that of grocery store strawberries, he said, but "we have a product that's superior."
Later in the season Boyd Orchards usually would have blackberries, but the very cold temperatures last winter may have damaged them, he said. He also hopes to have some peaches, but later in July.
■ Berries on Bryan Station, 4744 Bryan Station Road, Lexington, (859) 338-1877. Open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday to pick or buy; call for availability.
Owner Erik Walles said his crop also might be a little light this year because of the hard winter, but he plans to offer organic strawberries for $4.50 a quart that you can pick or they will pick them for you if you call ahead. Their berries also are available at Good Foods Co-op.
Walles said his operation "caters to the foodie community," and much of their produce winds up at restaurants like Dudley's and Holly Hill Inn.
"My 14-year-old, Grant Walles, will be setting up a mini farmers' market this summer at Windy Corners, too," he said.
■ Evans Orchard and Cider Mill, 180 Stone Road, Georgetown, (502) 863-2255. Closed Monday; open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 5:30 p.m. Sunday.
Strawberries are $4 a pound if you pick them or $5 for a quart in the store. Flats of eight quarts are $40 (and you might get a bargain if they have a lot of them).
Evans grows their strawberries in hydro stackers, which means less bending over, said employee Mahaley Slone. "They are on eye-level."
Lots of people will buy flats for preserves and baking. "And a lot just eat them on the patio here," Slone said.
In mid-June, Evans will have lots of blueberries — 30 to 40 different varieties — that you can pick or buy pre-picked, too.
■ Marcum Farms, 166 College Hill Road, Waco, in Madison County, (859) 369-7300. Open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week.
Owner Tammy Marcum has a half-acre of strawberries for customers to pick.
"We've done over 100 gallons today," Marcum said last week. With strawberries still blooming, she expects to have berries for several weeks. Marcum charges $11 a gallon, $12 if you want to keep the bucket.
Kids get a free pint box, she said, "but they have to pick their own."
If they get tired of picking, Marcum said she has a playhouse and a picnic table.
"A lot of people bring parents or grandparents out to pick just a few, and then they sit at the picnic table," Marcum said.
Marcum will have blueberries and blackberries in a couple of weeks, too.
■ The Lexington Farmers Market and Bluegrass Farmers Market also have seasonal berries, while they last.
■ Reed Valley Orchard, 239 Lail Lane, Paris, (859) 987-6480.
No strawberries this year, but they will have black raspberries, red raspberries and blueberries, starting in mid-June. Call to check availability.