Eat Local · Uncategorized

In Anticipation of Strawberries

Pick. Your. Own.  P. Y. O.

Merely a day or two from April.

April, the month during which P. Y. O. transitions from anticipation to actuality.

Porter Farms stand on Hwy 42 in Willow Spring

In our state, P.Y.O. season typically starts with the Strawberry.  In late 2011, as apple and pear seasons were fading, the next available locally-grown fresh fruit opportunity seemed so distant.  I “survived”  the fruitless winter on frozen berries and jams spread on toast and muffins.  Soon, I’ll sink my teeth into my first fresh, ripe, crimson cone-shaped berry of spring.  Soon.  🙂

The versatile strawberry can be incorporated in salsa, salad, pie, icebox desserts, sorbet, ice cream, cocktails, as well as the classic shortcake topped with a dollop of whipped cream.  Our State magazine (a very subscription worthy monthly publication, in my opinion), in association with the North Carolina Strawberry Association, seeks recipe submissions through April, to be published in May (as a free, downloadable .pdf file).

If you’re thinking about a visit to a strawberry field near you, you’ll find a helpful Strawberry Farm Locator on the NC Strawberry Association’s website, along with recipes and other matters strawberry.  Below is some information for a handful of area strawberry farms with which I’m familiar:

  • Today, Porter Farms & Nursery will open their Highway 42/Willow Spring location with the availability of a few fresh picked strawberries, and their housemade ice cream.  Within a couple of weeks, they anticipate opening the fields so we can pick our own.
  • Just a bit further east in Benson, Smith’s Nursery plans to open to P.Y.O. enthusiasts on Saturday (March 31st).  The day before Easter, on April 7th, they will host an Easter Egg Hunt, cookout, farm activities and a special visit from the Easter Bunny.
  • In Franklin county (to the north of Wake County), Vollmer Farm will open their certified organic strawberry fields at 9:00 am on Saturday.  The farm market and homemade ice cream shop will open as well, allowing pickers to indulge once they’ve picked all they desire.
  • In Apex, DJ’s Berry Patch may be announcing an opening date for the season soon.  Their strawberry fields feature varieties including Sweet Charlie, Camarosa, and Chandler and their Facebook page teases us with a bucket of freshly picked beauties.  Watch for an opening date for the 2012 picking season at Jean’s Berry Patch in Apex/Chatham county, as well.
  • In Orange county Whitted Bowers Farm (just 10 miles north of Hillsborough) may be open to picking one’s own certified organic strawberries by April 10th.  Check their website for updates and good-to-know info about their biodynamic farm.

And if you’re a fan of local farms, remember to keep April 28th & 29th open for the CFSA 2012 Piedmont Farm Tour.  Buttons are available now at a Weaver Street Market  near you (locations in Carrboro, Chapel Hill & Hillsborough).

In the mean time, watch your local farmers’ market for pints of strawberries.  You might be pleasantly surprised one Saturday.

Until then, think strawberry fields, forever.  And soon.

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