(Host) Since early this month, strawberry fields across Vermont have been brimming with the bright red fruit.
VPR’s Lynne McCrea spent some time in one strawberry field, and has this report.
(Child) “They’re delicious gonna eat the last one!”
(McCrea) At Sam Mazza’s Farm Market in Colchester, the pick-your-own field has been busy with all types of berry pickers
(LeeAnn Bick) “Make sure you get red ones.”
(McCrea) LeeAnn Bick is here with her two young children, who, at the moment, are doing more eating than picking.
(Bick) “What are you doing? You’re supposed to pick “
(Child) “I put the whole strawberry in my mouth.”
(Child) “Uh, uh.”
(Sound of berries dropping into box)
(McCrea) Owner Sam Mazza says his strawberries started coming in in early June, and that it’s been a very good year especially compared to last year.
(Mazza) “We’ve had a very good season, yeah. Last year don’t even count! Inches and inches of rain fields we just couldn’t even plant in. This year, it’s dry. But we can solve that with irrigation. I can make it rain, but I can’t stop it from raining!”
(McCrea) By all accounts berry growers across the state are doing well this year, thanks to near perfect conditions: a combination of little rain, with no extended periods of hot weather.
That’s made for some nice berry picking, too.
(Leary) “Not summer if you don’t come out and pick strawberries!”
(McCrea) Diane Leary, of Burlington, says she comes out every summer to pick strawberries, which she’ll use for a shortcake, and maybe a strawberry rhubarb pie. She moves along a row of the thick green plants, lifting up leaves as she goes, and describes her find.
(Leary) “Like little jewels under the leaves little gems – red jewels”
(McCrea) Nearly 200 acres of strawberries are grown in Vermont. For the most part, the state’s 90 or so producers sell their berries locally at farm stands or in nearby stores. Very little is shipped out of state. That means roughly 2 million pounds of strawberries are being eaten – or put away in freezers by Vermonters each year.
Farmers say the challenge of strawberries is that they come all at once, in a short period of time. Bumper crop years like this one can result in an over-abundance of fresh berries.
The Agency of Agriculture is working on one solution: a mobile quick freeze’ unit that can be moved from field to field, as needed. Officials say they’re developing the infrastructure for a quick freeze system, and hope to have it available to farmers next summer when, everyone hopes, it will be another bumper crop year.
For VPR News, I’m Lynne McCrea