Strawberriesby DariAnne Hudson

Fresh Stop — the produce delivery operation of the nonprofit New Roots — is bringing its annual Strawberry Jamm Festival to Shawnee on Thursday, May 21, and Shively on Wednesday, June 3.

The only festival of its kind in Louisville will serve up an array of strawberry dishes including shortcake, berry salsa and chocolate covered strawberries. The events also will include performances by the River City Drum Corp, tai chi demonstrations, salsa dancing and much more.

New Roots director Karyn Moskowitz tells IL the nonprofit is about uniting the community in an effort to gain knowledge and foster “relationships with farmers to secure access to fresh food.”

The vision of New Roots, according to Moskowitz, is to make fresh produce accessible in “under-invested communities,” as well as to create alliances that will make locally grown foods available.

One ally that partnered with New Roots for the Strawberry Jamm Festival is Danny VanMeter of VanMeter Farms. All the strawberries that will be used are locally grown by VanMeter Farms without pesticides or herbicides.

“We find it very rewarding to partner with New Roots on their Strawberry Festivals,” says VanMeter, adding that, “2015 will be a fantastic season for our berries.”

When asked why strawberries are the main ingredient for the Fresh Stop season kick-off, Moskowitz says it comes from a desire to partake in the new berries that bloom during strawberry season.

“We used to always miss strawberry season because the Fresh Stop program doesn’t start until mid-June, after strawberry season,” Moskowitz says. “We started thinking that we would simply have a strawberry Fresh Stop, similar to the produce Fresh Stops, so we could grab those early season berries. One thing turned to another, and now we’ve created a wonderful street festival.”

The influence of Strawberry Jamm Festivals on the community lies in providing hope, promoting a system of creating and organizing local produce, and encouraging the purchase of produce from local farmers, according to Moskowitz.

Moskowitz says she most looks forward to seeing the “beautiful and diverse faces of our community” unite in celebration of strawberry season, as well as “seeing everyone come out after a harsh winter to welcome seasonal produce into our community once again.”

Today’s Strawberry Jamm will take place at Redeemer Lutheran Church, 3640 River Park Drive, from 4:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. Pre-order for the June 3 Shively event here.