For me, strawberry picking rivals Christmas tree hunting. Perhaps this is a bold statement to make for my first blog post, but hand-on-heart, it’s true. Not only does berry picking herald the arrival of summer, but there is a certain Zen about a field of strawberries.
Starting in mid-June, I keep a close eye on roadside stands and websites alike, waiting for signs that the strawberries are ripe. This year, the crop at Applewood Farm & Winery was ready on the 22nd and like any self-respecting adult, I dropped everything and headed to the farm.
After a short drive, and an even shorter (but far more entertaining) tractor ride, I arrived at my happy place. There is nothing like a gorgeous field smelling of the sweet fruit, the clear, summery sky above, and a jewel-like bounty at your feet. The joy of strawberry picking is the simplicity of it all. Time slows in the quiet fields. The sun warms your back. Strawberry juice stickies your fingers and chin. The young and old are chatty, joyful and simply savoring the sweet taste of berries fresh off the plant. And when everyone is bent over with their butt in the air, searching for the perfect berry – you truly realize we are all the same.
As I hauled my bounty back to the tractor (dreaming of the jams, scones, mousses, cakes and other confections I was going to make), I realized that the strawberry season in Ontario is depressingly short. Luckily, there are some varieties that grow throughout the summer months that can be found in local farmer’s markets. Until next year my beloved berries!
If You Go:
Wear close-toed shoes, as most berry farms line the fields with straw (is that why they are called “straw-berries??”) to keep the berries dry and sand-free. The straw can be a tad prickly on bare toes.
Berry picking in the evening can be beautiful, but the low sun makes it harder to see the fruit.
A gardening knee-pad wouldn’t be a bad idea either. If you pick 44lbs of strawberries like I did, your back can get a *tad* sore.