The 2021 berry season opened June 6 at Potters Road Berries, east of Tillsonburg.
“We’re seeing lots of people wanting to get out and pick their own berries,” said Nellie Verbruggen.
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Potters Road Berries, located at 145476 Potters Rd. (519-842-2723), is a popular destination for anyone looking for fresh strawberries – picked for you or ‘u pick.’
“We have people travelling from far away – from London and Kitchener and Toronto to come out and pick berries,” Verbruggen noted.
This year the strawberries came into season a bit early.
“We’ve only had one other year that opened up on June 6. I’d say we’re a week earlier this year compared to other years.”
During an earlier stretch of cold weather when there was a risk of frost for six to seven days, the plants were protected by cloth ‘blankets’ to prevent them from freezing.
“We think that contributed to maybe bringing them on earlier because they were warm underneath that frost protection blanket.”
So far the 2021 strawberry crop has been excellent – for both quantity and quality. Something you can instantly taste.
“We’ve got a good supply of berries,” Verbruggen nodded.
The ‘pick your own’ style of purchasing berries is very popular for families, especially during the pandemic when people are looking for safe outdoor activities.
“Families can come out and pick their own and have some fun.”
If customers do not have their own containers, they (baskets and quarts) can be purchased at the farm. Open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends, they have long hours during the strawberry season.
The pick-your-own option is expected to last until the end of June.
“As a farmer would say ‘make hay when the sun shines,’” Verbruggen laughed. “That’s why we’re open – the berries are plentiful and we like to see them go into people’s homes and on the tables.”
STRAWBERRIES UNTIL OCTOBER
Potters Road Berries installed a new tabletop planting system three years ago that allows them to continue producing a crop of strawberries into mid-October.
“It’s strawberries growing in a ‘gutter system’ from Holland,” said Verbruggen, explaining the long rows of raised containers with soil and plants about four feet up off the ground, with an overhead plastic covering, fed by a system of water and fertilizer lines.
“That is not a pick-your-own system, that’s us selling strawberries.”
Similar to hydroponics, it’s an efficient and effective use of space.
It won’t be long before raspberry season begins, usually the first week of July.
“Because we now have strawberries up to October, we also grow sweet corn and potatoes here on the farm that they can buy here – with some tomatoes – a little bit of garden stuff.”