One of the joys of farming is that each season is different, fresh and a new start. This year Mother Nature has thrown us a bit of a curve with a mild winter and warm spring that has helped our strawberries ripen several weeks earlier than usual. With the arrival of the short 3-4 week strawberry season the sweet smell of strawberries is in the air! Most of us are accustomed to strawberries from the grocery that were shipped in from far away places and picked before they are fully ripe to ensure smooth travels. Local strawberries are a totally different experience. You are selecting each one yourself at the peak of perfection. They are ripe and red totally through and filled with flavor beyond comparison.
Here are 5 tips to make your strawberry picking experience the best!
- Play Hooky and pick on a weekday when strawberry availability is at it’s peak. Strawberries ripen over time and supplies are best mid-week.
- Arrive right when the farm opens on weekends. Since the demand for local strawberries far exceeds the capacity of local production, most farms are picked early on weekends. Follow your favorite farms on social media for updates on picking conditions throughout the day.
- Local Berries are Fragile. Eat your strawberries or freeze them within 24 hours of picking. Most local berries are grown for flavor rather than shipping so they will not last like those in the grocery.
- Dress for Picking You’re visiting a working farm so close-toed shoes, sun hat and sunscreen are in order. A red shirt is a good idea for the kids in case any juice drips from a sample.
- Please pay for your Strawberries before eating them. It’s hugely tempting to eat strawberries while picking, but please keep in mind that the strawberry patch is really the Farmer’s Market and your farmer’s livelihood. Strawberries are sold by the pound at most farms so you will need to weigh and pay before you enjoy.
- Make it a Family Fun Day! Bring a cooler with ice packs to save your strawberry bounty. The Loudoun Spring Farm Tour is May 20 & 21st this year so you may want to visit several farm to see farm animals and enjoy other activities such as jumping pillows!
Peak strawberry picking conditions should last though at least the 3rd weekend of May 2017. Great Country Farms’ strawberries are $2.99/lb plus farm admission for a full day of Family Fun on the Farm. Join us for our Strawberry Jubilee Festival Weekends ~ Earliest ever on May 6 & 7 and May 13 & 14, 2017.