Customers can buy ready-picked berries at Georgia strawberry farms but often opt for lower prices by picking their own. Photo: Faith Peppers Bucking a trend that has hundreds of acres of Georgia farmland moving from cultivation to subdivisions each day, Abe Banks took part of his 21 acres that was zoned for housing and turned it into a pick-your-own strawberry farm.The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that over the past five years, Georgia lost about 500 acres a day of farmland to home and business development. Banks worked with his Houston County neighbors to change land-use agreements so he and his family could grow strawberries. Those neighbors are now some of their best customers.And the Bankses should have plenty of customers this year.Strawberry Crop Good For ripe, sweet strawberries in Georgia, just look on the World Wide Web or ask at your county Extension office for the strawberry farm nearest to you. But for Abe Banks, growing strawberries is about more than making money. Banks has been tempted to sell the land. Developers could fit about 20 houses where he has his 40 rows of strawberries. But he won’t sell. The 2-acre field reminds him of the Fayetteville, Ga., farm where he grew up.”All the lessons you learn on a farm are the type of things you’ve got to have to get ahead in life,” he said.Banks teaches basic life skills to his 5-year-old daughter Sara, like learning to follow directions while looking for ripe strawberries to pick. “Red, head to toe?” she asked. “Show me,” he coached. “Red, head to toe. Let’s find another one.”Unique Berry FarmBanks bought 12 acres of the land at an auction. Later he added 9.5 acres more. Now surrounded almost entirely by houses, he has an unlikely spot for 37,500 strawberry plants to call home.”The Bankses’ farm is really unique,” Krewer said. “It’s a type of reverse urbanization.”Like many of today’s Georgia farmers, the Bankses have other jobs, too. He is an engineering manager at Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins. His wife Janet is an operating-room nurse at a Macon hospital.To find the strawberry farm nearest you, check the Web site at www.cpes.peachnet.edu/strawberryfarms.htm or contact your county Extension Service office. Photo: FaithPeppers “The crop is looking good,” said Gerard Krewer, a University of Georgia Extension horticulturist. “The season is just starting in north Georgia, and it’s been under way in south Georgia for several weeks.”Georgia’s climate usually makes for a long season for good berries. “If it stays cool, they can last in north Georgia until July 4,” Krewer said. “In south Georgia, it usually winds down in early to mid-June. This is the peak season, so now is the time to go pick.”Berry pickers will see attactive prices for the vine-ripened fruit. Prices average $6 to 7 per gallon across the state.”Strawberries are an expensive crop to grow,” Krewer said. “But growers can get a pretty good return on their investment.” Strawberries cost about $5,000 per acre to plant, but can gross over $15,000 per acre if nature cooperates. Georgia’s 50 growers usually bring in about $3 million per year.More Than Making Money Life’s lessons are fun and sweet in the strawberry-patch “school.” Photo: Joe Courson
BRITT, Iowa – The stars of the IMCA Modified division will shine during a rich three nights of racing at Hancock County Speedway.The Thursday, Aug. 10 Night of 1,000 Stars at Britt pays a guaranteed $3,500 to win, plus a bonus of $1,000 to the leader at halfway and another $1,000 if they have perfect attendance this season at Britt.The Night of 10,000 Stars on Friday, Aug. 11 boasts a $7,000 top check, plus $1,000 bonuses to the halfway leader, for perfect attendance and for having won on Thursday as well.Winner of the Saturday, Aug. 12 Shryock Memorial All Stars event can more than double his or her guaranteed $4,000 payday: In addition to the $1,000 paid to the halfway leader, $1,000 bonuses will be paid if the Shryock winner as perfect season attendance and won on Friday.Another $1,500 bonus goes to the driver winning all three Stars features, making their earnings for three days an impressive $24,000.All three events are draw/redraw and qualifiers for the 2018 Fast Shafts All-Star Invitational ballot. IMCA Speedway Motor Weekly Racing National, Side Biter Chassis North Central Region and Allstar Performance State points, but no track points will be awarded.Thirty cars will start three-wide in each of the 50-lappers. Minimum start money is $300 on Thursday and Saturday and $400 on Friday.Pit gates open at 4:30 p.m., the front gate opens at 5:30 p.m. and racing follows 6:30 p.m. hot laps each night. Grandstand admission is $15 for adults, $10 for students ages 13-17 and free for kids 12 and under. Pit passes are $30.Also running on the 23rd annual Landus Cooperative and Doug Studer Farms-sponsored Night of 1,000 Stars card are Karl Chevrolet Northern SportMods for $750 to win, IMCA Sunoco Stock Cars for $600 to win and IMCA Sunoco Stock Cars for $500 to win.DuPont Pioneer and DuPont Crop Protection sponsor the fifth annual Night of 10,000 Stars. Stock Cars run for $750 to win, SportMods and Hobby Stocks both for $500 to win.The Shryock Memorial is sponsored by Lake Mills Motor Sports and Pritchard Family Auto Stores. Top checks are $750 for the Hobby Stocks, $600 for the Stock Cars and $500 for the SportMods.National and state points will be awarded to Stock Car, SportMod and Hobby Stock competitors; regional points will also be given to Stock and Hobby drivers. Transponder scoring will be used all three nights.More information is available at the www.hancockcountyspeedway.com website or by emailing [email protected] Hancock County Speedway events are all part of IMCA Modified Speedweek, which starts with the Arnold Motor Supply Hawkeye Dirt Tour show on Aug. 7 at Clay County Fair Speedway in Spencer.The Harris Clash is Aug. 8 at Hamilton County Speedway in Webster City and the Hawkeye Dirt Tour finale is Aug. 9 at Buena Vista Raceway in Alta.All six events will be broadcast by IMCATV.
PASADENA – An Arcadia High School English teacher was taken into custody Thursday afternoon in front of his weeping wife after pleading not guilty to multiple charges of sex crimes against a former student. Phillip Sutliff, 34, of Azusa, was arrested by Arcadia police in October for 24 counts of oral copulation, sodomy with a person under 18, penetration by a foreign object and unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, according to a complaint. At the time, he was being held on $1.16 million bail. After his first arraignment, Pasadena Superior Court Judge Terry Smerling released Sutliff on his own recognizance on the condition that he not leave the condominium where he lives with his wife, another Arcadia High School teacher, and the couple’s 4-year-old son. He has been monitored electronically since then. A judge determined earlier this month that Sutliff would stand trial for the charges against him. Thursday, he pleaded not guilty at his second arraignment, and Pasadena Superior Court Judge Teri Schwartz revoked his release and ordered he be held on $500,000 bail. Barnholtz further argued that his client had been in compliance with his house arrest for the last six months. But Schwartz said, due to the serious nature of the felony charges and Sutliff’s conduct over time, he should be held in custody. As the bailiff handcuffed Sutliff, he mouthed the words “It’s OK” to his crying wife several times. A pretrial hearing for Sutliff will take place May 15 at 8:30a.m. in Pasadena Superior Court, Dept J. The trial is tentatively set for June 8. [email protected] (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4496 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Phil Wojdak argued that, because additional counts have been filed against Sutliff, he should now be in custody because he is a danger to the community. An alleged former victim of Sutliff’s testified Thursday that she and Sutliff had a brief consensual fling while she was 16 and he was 21 in 1993. At the time, the alleged victim was coaching cheerleaders at Live Oak Park in Temple City while Sutliff worked in the nearby recreation center. She said she and Sutliff had a physical relationship on two occasions in which he touched her sexually. However, the two were caught together soon after the second incident, and the girl was forced to end the relationship. The victim testified that she realized the relationship was inappropriate because she was a minor. Sutliff’s attorney Brad Barnholtz cross-examined the witness, pointing out that she and Sutliff’s relationship was a “mutual pursuit” and that Sutliff complied with her request to end it.