In the future, Internet surfers may pause long enough to stop talking about who killed JFK or who is the best captain of the USS Enterprise to consider whether DeeRae Chris-ten-sen's squash is ripe yet.
Questions relating to Box Elder County's famous "fruit highway" along U.S. 89 will be answered in cyberspace by the end of this month when the county's Fruit and Vegetable Hot Line gets its own home page.The architect of this latest venture into marketing Box Elder fruit is Faith Watson, Box Elder's horticulturist and staff member at Utah State University's extension office in Brigham City. Watson started the original telephone Fruit Hot Line three years ago to let as many people as possible know about the local fruit market.
That hotline - 734-2039 ext. 330 - will continue to work. Callers get an update on the fruits and vegetables grown on a 19-mile orchard-lined stretch of the road between the Weber County line and the outskirts of Brigham City.
But the county's Internet address - which won't be available until later this month - promises more. It will include not only updates on which fruit and vegetables are ripe, but will at the click of a mouse uplink recipes and maps to fruit stands.
Watson said the Internet presentation will be "down home and folksy."
The latest hotline recording indicates sweet cherries should be available beginning Thursday as will raspberries. Apricots ought to be ready July 10.
Watson calls farmers along the Fruit Highway once a week to get the information for the recording and upcoming computer link. They are happy to cooperate.
"You bet it's helped us," said Christensen, who helps run the family's fruit stand just outside of Brigham City. "People stop by when they know this is ripe or that is ripe."
"The further people get away from the orchards the further they have an idea of what's coming off," said grower George Nielson, who oversees one of the larger orchards on the Fruit Highway. "This helps us a lot to let people know what is ready."
Christensen and Nielson will start selling cherries in a few days, then apricots, pears, peaches, squash, watermelon, cantaloupe and apples. The harvest of produce along the highway lasts from late June until mid-November.
Watson said callers have dialed in from as far away as Georgia to inquire about Box Elder's fruit.