Thursday, May 30, 2013

2013 Strawberry Season Has Arrived

The Stoddart Avenue Community Garden has its own strawberry patch and our berries have been ripening in waves for the past week.  I’ve had a couple.  Neighbor Dave had quite a few on Monday.  Typically, the neighborhood kids eat most of them.  The adult gardeners who are interested in bulk strawberries drive to a local u-pick farm for our strawberry fix.  Unlike last year (when the strawberries ripened two weeks early), the strawberries this year appear to be right on schedule.

a. Hann Farms 4600 Lockbourne Road has u-pick strawberries this year at $1.80/pound (a 21 cent increase over last year, but still the least expensive option in Franklin County). This is the closest u-pick farm to Bexley and your least expensive option by far, but the trip there is a little tricky (through an industrial district in Obetz, etc.). You can pick 10-6 Monday through Saturday and 12-5 on Sunday. You must pay with cash, so come prepared. Call 491-0812 for more information.

b. Schact Farms, 5950 Shannon Road in Canal Winchester, is a family farm we typically visit every year.  It is is the next closest to Bexley and is pretty easy to find. However, I was shocked to learn today that they have discontinued most of their u-pick crops, including strawberries, tomatoes and peppers.  For the next two Saturdays, you can pick only asparagus and rhubarb.  Then, they will close until Fall, when you can pick pumpkins, gourds and winter squash.  They explained that they have been worn out with labor issues, increasing government regulations, weather and increasing age.  They will still have a wholesale business and, I believe, their market. This news was very disappointing because it is such a well-run farm.

c. Jacquenmin Farm, (between Plain City and Dublin), $2/pound (same price as last year). I visited here several years ago with my nieces and it is very quaint and very close to Dublin and Sports Ohio. They are typically open weekdays 8-5 and Sundays 1-4 p.m. They often stay late on Wednesdays.  They will not be open for strawberry picking on Friday, May 30 because they are picked out.   They recommend that you come early on Saturday because of the heat and number of expected visitors.  They also have a program for organized groups of 10 or more young children.  The strawberry field trip costs $4 per child and includes 1 quart of strawberries (picked by the children, of course), an educational coloring book about berries, and an ice cold slushee to cool down with after the picking is done. Please call the farm for more information regarding a field trip and to set a date.  Call 873-5725 for more information.

d. Doran Farms, 5462 Babbitt Rd. New Albany, I've never been there, but have heard good things about it. They will open on Monday, June 3 from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. every day until the strawberries are gone (with temporary suspensions while the ripe strawberries catch up with the pickers). They have not set a price for their berries yet, but I’ll update this site if they ever call me back.  Call 855-3885 for more information.

e. Circle S Farm, 9015 London-Groveport Rd west of Grove City. They will not be opening for u-pick for another few days (at least), but have reported that they expect a bumper crop.  I went here a few years ago with my oldest niece and it's a nice, large farm, but is way, way out in the country. They have not set u-pick strawberry prices yet.

While you can get strawberries for $2/pound at Kroger’s without a lot of bending, driving, sweating or walking, they aren’t as fresh or ripe or flavorful as the ones you pick yourself.  Freshly picked berries were being sold tonight at the Bexley Farmers' Market for $3.50 and $5/pint.  Strawberries should be red all the way through, something you rarely find at a grocery store. Be sure to wear sunscreen and bug spray. I highly recommend going first thing in the morning because it is supposed to get very, very hot this weekend.  Next week will be ideal weather for strawberry picking IMHO.

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