Picking your own strawberry feast

Stephanie Ziebarth

As summer approached my first year here, I started hearing lots of talk of picking strawberries and questions like, 'Did you get your strawberries yet?' Despite their lack of appeal to my taste buds, I was convinced to go pick some berries.

My kids and I picked at Trayer's Farm (www.trayersfarm.com) our first year. We were prepared with water bottles and hats. We took the good advice to go first thing in the morning to avoid the heat. I even brought a kneeling pad. Despite some distraction for the children, we picked a good amount and headed home.

I tried my first personally picked berry in the car that day. Much to my delight, freshly picked berries are delectable. Store-bought, artificially ripened strawberries were my problem. Now that I had tried the 'real' ones, I was hooked.

My children and I (sometimes with friends) have picked strawberries every year since then. We each fill a gallon bucket and then freeze as many as we cannot eat within the first 24 hours or so. I played around with strawberry freezer jam (which is delicious), but have since decided that we will either eat them fresh or use them for smoothies and pies throughout the year.

Unfortunately, Trayer's stopped offering 'pick-your-own' a few years ago. Fortunately, there are other options in the area. For the past few years, we have headed to The Drying Shed (https://www.facebook.com/The-Drying-Shed-176417825818069/), where we picked almost 14 pounds this year. At $2.49 per pound, I was very satisfied.

One person in the vehicle (who will remain unnamed) probably ate over a half-pound of strawberries on the ride home. The evidence was all over her fingers and face. But that is part of the fun: gorging on a sweet, healthy treat once per year-a veritable strawberry feast. I'm not sure I can blame her. I reached my empty hand toward the backseat more than once myself. 'Another berry, please,' I'd say.