Simon Pocock - Blues in Brittany

We have some Dutch friends called Karen and Kas (pronounced case) who grow a couple of acres of strawberries and do self-pick, which works very well. Being Dutch, the crop is very clean but a couple of weeks before harvest they need help as straw has to be placed between the rows to protect the berries. I realized after helping distribute 5 tons of straw with a pitchfork why they are called straw-berries. Last year my 2 eldest helped, but as one of them is in Lille cat minding and writing a thesis, I felt obliged to keep the other one company.

Strawberry fields for ever 1

It’s a very sexist job as it is the men who put out the straw and the women who crawl on hands and knees putting the straw under the plants. When there is a group of us working, there is a blend of languages being spoken: English/French/Dutch. Karen and Kas should have a good year as the rain came at the right time after nearly two months of sun and the berries are swelling. They aren’t registered as Bio (organic) but they don’t treat with or use chemicals – they rotate the land and it’s in grass for two years and the only thing is the straw is from a conventional farm, but they taste really good!

Our town band has at last sorted out the problem of the old drummer versus the young one. After the last repetition where the old guy just slagged off Kevin [aged 16] who resigned, it was decided to call an AGM extraordinaire and have Luc the old drummer excluded (chucked out) for his outrageous bad behaviour. This is good news as no one seems to like him and he never contributes to the aperitif after rehearsal.

Editor’s Note

The name “strawberry” likely comes from the Old English “streawberige” or “streowberie,” possibly referring to the way the berries are strewn about the plant on runners, or perhaps because straw was used as mulch in cultivating the berries. Another theory suggests the name could come from the practice of selling the berries threaded onto straws. The exact origin of the term is not definitively known, but these theories highlight the intertwined history of the fruit and its cultivation practices.

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