GRANBY On a clear almost-summer day last week, the strawberry fields at both Dickinson Farms and Sapowsky Farms in Granby were both busy with people harvesting what looks like a "very plentiful crop," according to Debbie LaFlamme of Dickinson Farms.
Granby is the only community in Western Massachusetts with two pick-your-own strawberry farms.
LaFlamme said the abundant berries make for "easy picking."
The strawberries would have been affected by the copious amount of rain the area has had recently if there hadn't been days in between in which the berries could dry out, she explained. Without the drying, the fruit would have rotted on the vine.
To help with keeping moisture away from the berries and in the ground, the plants are heavily mulched.
Heavy rains followed by a cooling trend are good for the berries, she explained.
LaFlamme said that the season is in its peak now through July 4, when it will begin to wind down.
The cost of a pound of berries at Dickinson is $1.65 a pound. Because this field consists of new plants, there isn't a price to compare with last year, LaFlamme said, but she added the cost is "more than the year before. Everything costs more and we have to pass it along to the consumer."
A quart of berries already picked is $5 at Dickinson's Farms.
Right after the strawberries, the blueberry crop will come in around July 4, she added.
Tammy Sapowsky of Sapowsky Farms agreed the weather has been "absolutely perfect" for the berry crop. Like Dickinson's, Sapowsky Farms' strawberry season goes through July 4.
The price for pick your own is $1.30 a pound. Picked berries are $3.99 a quart, three quarts for $11 and six quarts for $20 for people who don't want to pick the fruit themselves, but are planning to either load up the freezer or make jams and jellies.
Sapowsky said the pricing is the same as last year's, explaining it was a "conscious decision" as consumers are absorbing other costs, such as gasoline, to come to the farm to pick.
To help convince consumers a trip to Granby is worthwhile, the Sapowskys are running a variety of specials at their farm stand as well.
The Sapowskys have six acres of strawberries in production this year and another six acres planted for next season. The plants have a lifespan of about two years. Because there is some overlap, Sapowsky said next year there would be closer to eight acres of strawberries at the farm.
"The berries are fabulous. This is one of the best seasons," she said.
"The number of farmers' markets throughout the state shows us that the move to buy produce that's locally grown is catching on," said Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) Commissioner Doug Petersen. "These local markets and farms give communities character, and the only way to assure they're still going to be there into the future is to continue to support local agriculture. At this time of year, buying locally grown strawberries and ice cream is a great way to do that," he added.
The Sapowsky Farms' pick-your-own field is located across from Granby High School on Route 202. For picking information call 467-7952. The pick-your-own field is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Dickinson Farms' pick-your-own field is located on New Ludlow Road in Granby near the intersection of Ferry Hill Road. The field is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.n. Monday through Saturday and from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Call ahead for picking conditions at 467-3715.