Monday, March 10, 2014
Here’s a sampling of farms in southern Maine where you can pick your own strawberries. See a list of places that grow and sell organic strawberries.
WHERE TO FIND BERRIES
Here's a map to guide your berry search.
BUT FOR THE FROST, THE CROP WOULD HAVE COME EVEN EARLIER
Strawberry season would have been three weeks earlier instead of two, if not for three nights of frost that kept farmers up all night in mid-May.
That same frost on May 10-12 cost lots of farmers their apple crops, or at least a good portion of their apples.
It affected strawberries too, since they were already in bloom, but the devastation was much less, according to David Handley, a vegetable and small-fruit specialist at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.
“What happens is, the first flowers may have been killed by the frost, but there’s lots of secondary and tertiary and quaternary flowers that come a little bit later that will make up for that loss,” he said. “It’s just that they’ll be a bit later.”
Strawberry growers have the advantage of being able to protect their crops from frost by watering their plants through the night.
“Most of them have thermometers set up in the field,” Handley said. “These days a lot of them are electronic, so they’ll actually set off an alarm on the grower’s computer or call them on the phone and say, 'Hey, the temperature’s getting down to 34, you need to get out here.’ So they’ll get out, start up the pumps, turn on the water and sprinkle the plants through the night.”
Watering forms ice on the plants, releasing energy in the form of heat.
“We watered all night for three nights in a row,” said Bill Spiller of Spiller Farm in Wells. “We didn’t get much frost damage on the strawberries. We lost the apple crop.”
WHAT ABOUT BLUEBERRIES?
Strawberries aren’t the only crop that have had a nice early boost from the weather.
If Mother Nature cooperates with lots of warmth and just enough rain, look for plenty of fresh peas by July 4 – no matter the farmers’ or gardeners’ skills – and early blueberries.
“I think you can expect most things to be significantly ahead of schedule this year,” said David Handley, a vegetable and small-fruit specialist at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.
“I think we’re going to have, the way things look right now, a pretty good supply of peas for the Fourth of July,” he said. “Heck, I’m looking at sweet corn and scratching my head saying, 'Man, we’re going to be close on that, even.’ It’s amazing.”
Strawberry fields are off Two Lights Road, Cape Elizabeth, 799-3383
Hours: Expects to open soon, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Call ahead.
ALEWIVE’S BROOK FARM
83 Old Ocean House Road, Route 77, Cape Elizabeth, 799-7743
Hours: Opening soon, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Call ahead.
187 Doles Ridge Road, Limington
Hours: Opened last Friday. Hours are 6 a.m. to noon and 5 to 8 p.m. Call ahead.
RIVERSIDE FARM STAND AND GREENHOUSE
Route 4, North Berwick (four miles north of South Berwick), 676-2648; riversidefarmstand.com
Hours: Opened Monday. Hours are 8 a.m. to noon and 3 to 6 p.m. daily. Call ahead.
LAVIGNE STRAWBERRY FARM
158 Whichers Mill Road, Sanford, 324-5497
Hours: Now open 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily
85 Spiller Farm Lane, Wells, 985-2575; www.spillerfarm.com
Hours: Now open 8 to 11 a.m. daily