Thanks to 3 new growers Mustang, Oklahoma has become a new center for fresh strawberries

Great State
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MUSTANG, OKLAHOMA -- To properly answer the question of why so many people got up early on a cold morning in Mustang to visit Harry Duepree's big garden you need look no further than the red berries he offered for taste testing.

Of all the crops he's trying out this spring, strawberries are king.

"People just sort of find you don't they?" remarks a visitor.

"They do," he laughs. "They find the strawberries."

In fact Harry is working with Oklahoma's Noble Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to see which varieties work best.

Expert Steve Upson says they grow surprisingly easy.

"What most people enjoy about it is six months after you plant you've got a return."

Back in the 1920's and 30's eastern Oklahoma had several farms that grew strawberries.

Charles Colcord had a big farm and took this color film of a bumper crop one spring.

But refrigeration came along.

Good roads came along, and pretty soon people forgot how good a fresh strawberry could taste.

"Duepree says, "there's a difference between these and the super market kind."

Harry and his wife Debbie put in their plants and Rejoice Farms started getting daily visits from pickers.

Just up the road the Agape House Farm put in an even bigger strawberry patch.

A little further east Buffalo Farms started growing them too.

Suddenly, Mustang, Oklahoma became a center for local berries.

Upson smiles, "You've got to have your Braum's ice cream with fresh strawberries."

Harry's been picking for a few weeks already.

He figures there are enough Chandlers and Camino Reals to last three more weeks.

A forgotten fruit now awaits re-discovery.

The best ones are always hiding behind the leaves.

Rejoice Farms sells their strawberries at local farmers' markets.

If you want to pick yourself call Harry at 834-1191.

The number for Agape Farms is 628- 8092.

Buffalo Creek Berry Farm's phone number is 412-4515.

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