Young Boy’s Efforts Are Berry Kind

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Russ Volmer

After Russ Vollmer’s Franklin County strawberry farm was damaged by strong hail and winds, one of his regular customers decided to lend a hand. Seven-year-old Alexander Eleczko of Raleigh has been visiting the farm with his family since he was a year old, and he was determined to help out after hearing what happened to his favorite strawberry patch.

“The night the storm came in, it was a one-two punch between the driving rain and hail,” Vollmer says. “It damaged the plants, creating openings for disease to enter, and being an organic operation, I’m limited in what I can use to fight back disease.”

Up until the storm, Vollmer says they had a tremendous crowd for U-pick strawberries on the weekends, but as farmers, when Mother Nature strikes, you have to accept certain realities and move on.

A little while later, Vollmer heard from Alexander’s mom, Stacey. She said that strawberry picking at the farm is one of their family traditions, and Alexander had set up a lemonade stand to raise funds for the farm. He sold the drink for $1 per cup and raised $71, which he donated to the farmer.

“As a small family farm, my relationships with my customers is so important,” Vollmer says. “I’m emotionally tied to this, but it just proves the effect we can have on the food system when we create relationships with families.”

– Rachel Bertone

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