From Clinton News–The strawberry business in Mississippi may be small, but growers are finding big business with consumers who prefer to buy locally.

The Mississippi strawberry is as red on the inside as it is on the outside,” said Brooks Brownlee, who owns Brownlee Farms in Marshall County and grows five acres of strawberries. “Commercial strawberries have a whitish color and air pockets on the inside, but our berries are fresh-tasting throughout.”

Brownlee sells his strawberries at his farm and at a roadside stand in Shelby County in Tennessee. He said he believes his business succeeds because consumers prefer to buy their produce from local growers.

“There is a big ‘buy local’ movement going on, and consumers are looking in their areas for places they can purchase produce,” he said.

“Being able to offer customers a fresh product that tastes better than what they can get in grocery stores is what keeps strawberry growers successful.”

Strawberries grown in California and Florida are available in grocery stores before Mississippi growers even begin their harvest. Those berries have a long shelf life, but local berries are meant to be consumed shortly after harvest.

“Our berries are supposed to be eaten fresh from the farm or made into preserves or baked goods that can be kept,” Brownlee said. “The taste quality is excellent, and they are really hard to beat.”

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