|Sue and Chris Hudson|
Most people look forward to relaxing and traveling when they retire, but that didn't appeal to Chris Hudson.
Hudson has put in long days and back breaking work the last seven years to build his little strawberry patch near Crane into a money making venture.
"The first year was a complete failure," said Hudson. "We didn't put the right plants in the first time."
Hudson, who is known around town as "The Strawberry Man," harvests about 700 pounds of berries out of his patch each week.
Hudson and his wife Sue hit farmer's markets in Republic and Shell Knob, but their best selling spot is right by the railroad tracks in Crane. Hudson, who employs contract laborers to help pick the crop, sells his berries several days a week, but never on Sunday.
"700 pounds sounds like a lot of strawberries, but I'll sell 300 pounds or more just in Crane."
"We sell a lot of them out of this little shack," said Hudson. The little shack he is referring to is Remember When Produce near Mars Hill.
When the season ends in a few weeks, Hudson will plant Green Graze. The plant helps kill Nemotodes, which are common parasites that attach to the root systems of strawberry plants and damage future crops.
In the fall, the Hudson's will put in new plants that come from Nova Scotia and are not perennial. "It costs us about $3,500 to put in a new crop every year."
"We're making a little bit of money this year. The first four years we lost money....the fifth year we broke even and we made a little profit last year."
Hudson won't slow down after strawberry season ends, he will begin selling fresh vegetables like tomatoes, squash, eggplant, cucumbers and a variety of peppers he will harvest from another plot of land near his home as soon as they are ready.
He will also make several trips to Missouri's boot heel to bring back watermelon and cantaloupe that he will sell out of his familiar white truck next to the railroad tracks.