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Strawberries in April?

Apr 17, 2012 05:52PM ● By Anonymous
Most years, we wouldn’t get to indulge in the red, juicy fruit until late May or early June. But strawberries just love warm weather, so here it is mid-April, and farmers are begging people to take strawberries off their hands. Emily’s Produce, located in Dorchester County, was scheduled to open for the season on April 20th. Typically, they would only be selling flowers, plus early spring vegetables such as asparagus. But the surplus of strawberries meant the farm opened for “You-Pick” the weekend of April 14th, and people came in droves to fill buckets of the seasonal fruit, says owner Kelly Jackson.

“Normally, we plan to open on April 20th and we’re hoping, not guaranteeing, that we would have strawberries in enough quantities to provide enough to our customers,” she says.

Photo courtesy of Kelly Jackson

The up-and-down weather has wreaked havoc on local farmers. A surplus of warm days in March that would occasionally be followed by a frost meant that some farmers, particularly orchards, lost crops. “If the orchards had blooms and a frost hit the bloom, it’s surely gone,” Jackson says. But consumers are rejoicing at the early harvest, particularly local chefs, who scrambled to include the fresh strawberries on their recent menus. Emily’s Produce supplied berries last weekend to Cambridge and Easton restaurants, such as The High Spot, Bartlett Pear Inn, The Hyatt Chesapeake Bay, Bistro Poplar, River House, and Ocean Odyssey.

But what does this mean for the rest of the season? Just as strawberries came early, they’ll leave early, too. Kelly says that they expect the typical four-week growing season, which means that this year’s strawberry season will be over just when it traditionally begins in late May. The irony is that the flowers that farms typically sell in spring while they’re waiting for crops to come in aren’t really ready for sale yet, Jackson adds. When opening this weekend, Emily’s Produce will offer strawberries, asparagus, radishes, mustards greens, and lettuce (another surprise early crop) for sale.

“You have to go along with Mother Nature and not have expectations,” Jackson says. “As a consumer, we need to be flexible and support local growers.” That means indulging in some early-season strawberries, now available in droves at local markets!