Welcome

Thank you for visiting paducahsun.com, the online home of The Paducah Sun.

Calendar
June 2012
S M T W T F S
27 28 29 30 31 01 02

Click here to submit an event.

Family feeds festival a berry at a time

BY TONY HUFFMAN Effingham (Ill.) Daily News

NEWTON, Ill. - Crossing the Burl Ives Bridge over the Embarras River and passing Lake Jasper, you can almost smell the air get sweeter. With enough strawberry fields to inspire a Beatles song, Larry and Janice Bigard sit at the entrance of their strawberry patch, which they started 39 years ago.

Now a multigenerational family business, the patch has become a staple of the community. At the upcoming Strawberry Fest, if you bite into something red, juicy and sweet, it came from Bigard's Strawberry Patch and Peach Orchard. According to Jasper County Chamber of Commerce President Suzie McCann, the Bigard's patch provides all the local strawberries for the festival.

"We are one of the biggest patches around," said the Bigards' daughter, Melinda Barthelme.

Their patch will produce about 800 quarts, or about 1,000 pounds, of strawberries for the festival. Barthelme, who grew up picking strawberries and is now a nurse practitioner at Marshall Clinic in Newton, is proud of her family's contribution to the farming community.

"I think the Strawberry Festival has been a great asset for Jasper County," she said, adding they have provided strawberries for the festival since its inception 20 years ago. "Without having a large local strawberry patch, I don't know if the festival would have worked."

Despite a historically cold winter, the patch has been able to create enough produce to be featured at the fest and farmer's markets in Jasper and Effingham counties.

According to the senior Bigard, winter killed a third of the strawberry crop and decimated their peach orchard.

"We won't have any peaches this year," said Bigard, whose farm also features an apple orchard. "We had an idea some of the produce wouldn't make it because winter was so cold."

Winter pushed back the date of edible strawberries to just before the festival. In a typical year, strawberries are ready for consumption in early May.

Melinda's husband, Chad, and their kids, Dylan, McKendra, Jaclyn, and Kohlten, all lend a hand with other hired workers during peak harvest times.

"I enjoy it, and hopefully the kids do too," said Chad. "Not everyone gets to do this kind of farming."

On the farm, approximately 10 acres are irrigated and a protective covering is put over the strawberries. Over the years, Bigard said he has seen several orchards come and go through the area and is protective of the hard-earned secrets to a productive crop.

Now a staple of the Strawberry Festival and other farmer's markets, the family has only seen the demand for local fresh produce grow.

"We sell out at the farmer's markets," said Melinda. "We will probably sell out at the Strawberry Festival."

The Bigards hope the lifelong passion will endure for years to come.

"Any time you have a small business that involves family, you can't ask for anything better than that," said Janice.

Comments made about this article - 0 Total

Comment on this article

Your comment has been submitted for approval
captcha c04c958200df437cbd9c2eacd2d66928
Top Classifieds
  • AKC Shih-Tzu Vet checked, $600 731-3 ... Details
  • PILLOW TOPmattress sets NEW in plasti ... Details
  • Bedroom Suites New in Boxes. 6pc. che ... Details
  • CHARLES SMITH CONCRETE REPAIR &RE ... Details
  • Court-OrderedAUCTION2BR/1BA Single Fa ... Details
  • Museum Quality Ornate Antique Furnitu ... Details
  • ONLINE Real Estate Auction Nomin ... Details
  • Cash for Farms (270)339-8680 Details
  • Seasoned Firewood. 270-243-5815 Details
  • SEEING is believing! Don't b ... Details
  • 375 Acre Farm in Ballard County D ... Details
  • Owner Financing, new 3000sq ft,in Mar ... Details
  • 1900 Broadway1500 - 6600 sq. ft. offi ... Details
  • FHA, USDA, VA & Conventional Loan ... Details
  • 127 Acres Lyon CountyLake Barkley- De ... Details
  • Hyundai Accent '02 $1,800 97 ... Details
  • 05 CHEVY MALIBU $2500(270) 388-5983 Details
  • Nissan Altima '07270-994-580 ... Details
  • 2010 Nissan Maxima, loaded, 87,400 mi ... Details

Most Popular
  1. WHO reports rise of neurological disorder during Zika outbreak
  2. Tibetan monk to speak at WKCTC
  3. Sports facilities upgrade overdue
  1. 'Kynectors' hope to keep helping with health care
  2. McCracken District Court
  3. 1 to 2 inches of snow/sleet to drop Sunday
  1. 'Kynectors' hope to keep helping with health care
  2. WHO reports rise of neurological disorder during Zika outbreak
  3. Tibetan monk to speak at WKCTC
Discussion

Check out these recently discussed stories and voice your opinion...