The strawberry: it’s elegant, beautiful, and sweet. We wait for the spring and summer when these delightful fruits are in season. At the Andover Farmers’ Market, the strawberry is the image of our brand and a symbol of Andover history. But, what makes a great batch of strawberries?
George Rennie’s Strawberry Farm was known for producing quality strawberry plants. The four acre farm, once located here in Andover, set the standard for growing strawberries. In their 1955 catalog, the self-proclaimed “Strawberry Specialists” meticulously detailed how they prepared their crops for the best (and most delicious) results.
The Rennie’s suggested that the best time to begin growing strawberries was in June. Once planted, the blossoms of the new crop should be pinched as soon as they surface in order to strengthen the plant and yield a healthier crop the following season. According to the catalog, shallow cultivation is essential for strawberry plants to hold moisture, allowing the strawberries to have that sweet, delightful taste we know and love. It is then recommended that the plants be covered in meadow with hay, rye straw, or pine needles at the end of November in order to protect them from the winter frost.
At Rennie Farm, one quarter of the land was dedicated to strawberry plants. Winter Rye was planted in the remaining land. Then, buckwheat was planted and plowed in order to maintain moisture. The land was fertilized with hen and stable manure before being plowed in the fall and again in the spring. Two weeks after planting, the strawberry plants are then fertilized and are one step closer to cleansing your palate.
Proper spacing is essential for yielding successful strawberry crops. The Rennie’s believed that the largest crops with the best berries should be grown in rows that are two and a half feet wide. The plants with the least moisture should be planted between these rows.
Each seed was cultivated with care, something George Rennie and his family took great pride in. The growing practices at Rennie Farm were nationally recognized in the Market Growers Journal. The journal published an article profiling George’s son, Wallace Rennie, and his methods for producing quality, highly coveted strawberry crops. Wallace echoed the sentiments of the farm’s 1955 catalog, showing that the George Rennie Strawberry Farm thrives on tradition.
A staple of Andover farming history, the George Rennie Strawberry Farm redefined the strawberry. Though the farm is no longer around, its legacy has had a lasting impact on Andover’s farming community. The Rennie’s helped to influence our brand and encourage farmers throughout the area to proudly continue to do what they do best.