Couple makes sugar cane grinding an event

Published: Monday, November 12, 2012 at 09:04 AM.

DEFUNIAK SPRINGS — For the past 10 years, Don and Lesa Harrison have made it a tradition to open up their home and their sugar cane grinder every November.

“We just do it every Sunday afternoon starting around 2 (p.m.), and we just go until people start leaving,” Don said. “It’s not work for us, its fun.”

The Harrisons say fall is the perfect time to cut down their 100-foot rows of sugar cane and invite the community to come out and help grind it in Don’s antique grinder from his grandfather.

Each Sunday this month, the Harrisons say they let visitors — typically children — push the sugar cane into the grinder so they can get an up close look at the hard stalk crunching and producing juice.

View a slideshow of the process.

To power the grinder, Don sits on his tractor with a long log attached and drives in circles as pitchers catch the juice. Once the juice is made it can be boiled to produce sugar.

“It takes eight to 10 stalks to make a gallon of juice,” Don said. “It takes eight or 10 gallons to make one gallon of syrup.

“We really enjoy drinking the juice and letting the kids chew on the sugar cane to experience something new.”

 The Harrisons said they have had regulars who come each Sunday and folks from a county away who have brought their grandchildren. Last year, a bluegrass band stopped by for some sugar cane and tunes.

Coupled with the cane, Don and Lesa grow everything from apples and peaches to vegetables and citrus. When the plants are in full bloom, they start giving it away.

“We used to sell it, but now we just give it to friends and family or we’ll announce what we’re giving away on the radio,” Lesa said.

“You can really tell that they love growing all of this and they love to share it,” said Marvis Stafford who was visiting the Harrisons with the DeFuniak Springs Garden Club last week. “I was surprised by how the juice tasted. It wasn’t over sweet and it had a little earthy touch to it.”

“Sugar cane is just in my blood,” Don said while he was giving a tour of his 31-acre property to the garden club. “I just enjoy growing it.

Want to go? Don Harrison can be reached at 850-892-7249.
 

Contact Daily News Staff Writer Angel McCurdy at 850-315-4432 or amccurdy@nwfdailynews.com. Follow her on Twitter @AngelMnwfdn. 



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