Dana Guillory Gardens. It preserves fruits, vegetables and a way of life. In the farm-to-table store in Iowa owned and operated by her and her daughter Courtney Firestone, customers can find jellies, preserves, pickles, relish, cold drinks, fresh eggs from the farm, gifts, and sometimes baked goods like syrup cake, zucchini bread, or bread. pudding.
“More than anything, we love teaching our children and grandchildren the importance of hard work and enjoying the fruits of labor,” Guillory said.
Earlier in the season, Fresh PIckins offered an abundance of cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, red potatoes, assorted peppers, eggplant, okra, beans and corn.
“I planted 600 plants,” Guillory said. “But this year’s drought has been difficult for everyone.”
During the Dog Days of Summer, gardens in southwest Louisiana are generally in decline, drought or not. However, Fresh Pikins had tomatoes in abundance, and a local farmer had just dropped off a bushel of kieffer pears, good to eat and good to keep.
“I’ve never tasted better bread and butter pickles than these, and I’ve tasted a lot of bread and putter pickles,” said one customer after paying for her purchase of several jars and spending her order of fig jams.
Guillory learned to can from her grandmother Lovenia Quibodeaux.
“Every time I’m in the kitchen, I feel like she’s there with me,” Guillory said.
Some recipes have been changed. One remains the same, his grandmother’s okra pickles.
“I’m going to put some on my jambalaya,” says Guillory, “but my grandmother always put a little juice in her okra before serving it. That’s why she called them okra pickles.
Guillory didn’t share the recipe, only that making the popular okra pickles allows him to use slightly larger cucumbers missed from picking the day before.
“I taste them first to make sure they’re not bitter,” she says, “then I remove the seeds. My grandmother sometimes used kazoos.
Fresh Pickins got its start 10 years ago when Guillory’s father, Carl Johns, challenged her to enter a gardening and vegetable growing contest. (She claims she won.) The gardens were producing so well that they started a farm stand, just a tent and a table. She continued to garden because she found it therapeutic work, a way to distract her mind from the cares of life.
“Young people won’t know how to do these things if we don’t teach them,” she added.
Fresh Pickins is truly a family affair. Her husband Keith, a rice farmer turned worker in the petrochemical industry, helps with planting and harvesting.
“Every year I take more and more of his hay pasture with my garden,” she said. “He says if he ever wins the lottery, he’ll go back to farming. I couldn’t do it without his help.
Daughter-in-law Kaila Guillory takes care of the books. Stepmom Janelle Johhson makes the bread pudding.
Every year Guillory buys something for the company. Five years ago it was a small school building with a showroom and pickling kitchen. Her sister-in-law donated the dishwasher. A friend of her son’s had ripped out the cupboards and the sink and given them to her. His brother-in-law gave him the stove.
“This year we bought plastic mulch with a drip line,” she said. “Next year, everything will be on plastic.”
This will reduce some of the work. Even so, there will be a lot of work to do getting the plants in the ground, getting the plants picked and sold while making sure the next generation can produce their own batch of okra pickles.
Fresh Pickins is located at 23077 La. 383 in Iowa.