Fresh Produce: Lakeview Farmer Grows a Variety of Goodies
Every year, we gear up for spring flowers and colorful gardens. One of the most popular and colorful plants is the strawberry, which seems to be a magnetic attraction for everyone.
Just ask Lewis Ring of Ring's Strawberry Farm, located at 937 Airport Road in Lakeview.
"Strawberries are the most popular item this time of the year," says Ring. "We offer a market where you can pick-your-own, or we will pick for you."
From mid-April through June, Ring's Farm is open Monday, Wednesday and Saturday from 7:30 a.m. until it's time to close. Ring also brings his goods to the farmers market held each Saturday in Southern Pines.
"We welcome all pickers," says Ring. "And we will never turn anyone away who wants to keep picking, no matter what time of day."
Ring's farm is a family affair.
"I started on one acre of land more than 30 years ago because I wanted to grow strawberries," he says. "Originally we didn't grow strawberries on plastic. The plants were simply put in the ground, and we used different cultivars at that time. But once this plastic was developed in California, growing the produce has become cleaner for the environment -- and every strawberry grower uses the plastic in rows within the strawberry fields."
Ring prepares the land in September, plants the berries in October, and they remain dormant during the winter. In early April the plants begin to bloom.
"May is the primary month, but we enter June with the berries until the weather becomes too hot," he says.
Ring's customers come from Pinehurst, Southern Pines and Whispering Pines and surrounding areas every year. When asked whether or not the economy has affected the sales of the strawberry crop, Ring says, "I haven't seen a decline. Maybe it's because I try to keep my prices down, and I'm competitive with the other growers."
He goes on to say that it "takes time to build a reputation, and if you treat your customers fair, they will come back for more produce every year."
Last year the strawberry crop was not up to par because of the weather challenges. Strawberries prefer sunshine and cool weather.
"This year has been one of the best crops because we had several days of cool weather," he says.
Ring maintains that he has gained a lot of knowledge over the years.
"I try to do the best that I can, and I manage in a positive and productive way," he says. "I've been in the business for a long time, and there's always something to learn."
Ring has been growing "Chandler" (a superior flavor strawberry with high yields) and "Camarosa" (large juicy fruit and a great producer) berries.
"We are always looking to add new varieties to the crop," he says.
Ring mulches his plants in pine straw.
"That's my magic potion for them to grow," he says. "I use organics, like chicken manure, because I also grow and sell chickens."
The farm also produces corn, green beans, early squash and watermelon.
Currently, Ring is raising 200,000 birds.
"We have four to five flocks a year," he says. "We grow them for Pilgrims Pride."
Ring invites everyone to visit the farm and enjoy his produce.
"Eating fresh is what it's all about," he says. "And we invite everyone to visit the farm."
For further information, call 949-2657.
Anita Stone, a Master Gardener, resides in Raleigh. Contact her at email@example.com.
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