Jordan’s Farm on Wells Road in Cape Elizabeth is open, but not yet for public picking of strawberries. Jenny Ibsen / For The Forecaster

CAPE ELIZABETH — The Cape Farm Alliance will host its 11th Strawberry Festival at Maxwell’s Farm Saturday, yet farms all across town are all coming up short with a key ingredient – strawberries.

The festival celebrates the kick-off of strawberry season, a traditional crop in Cape Elizabeth, and this year the strawberry season is running late.

Thanks to the cool, damp spring, there’s only a limited supply of picked strawberries for sale so far at Jordan’s Farm in Cape Elizabeth. Jenny Ibsen / For The Forecaster

Maxwell’s Farm at 527 Ocean House Road, which has 12 acres of strawberry fields this year, has been regularly updating its voicemail greeting with estimates about its public picking season.

“Thanks for calling Maxwell’s strawberry hotline,” the greeting said Wednesday, before informing callers the farm won’t be open until early next week for public berry picking. “We are impatiently waiting for sun and warmth to ripen the many green berries in our fields.”

Lois Bamford of Maxwell’s Farm on Wednesday said they are looking forward to a good year, “but we’re all getting impatient. … We do not have the quantity for public picking (for the festival on Saturday).”

Bamford said their goal at this point is to make sure all the Strawberry Festival vendors, who will be offering a variety of snacks and desserts, will have fruit. There will also be some pre-picked quarts of berries for sale at the festival.

The shortage and delay is the result of a cool, damp spring – conditions not conducive to robust strawberry plants.

“It’s really an odd season,” Penny Jordan of Jordan’s Farm said Wednesday. “We haven’t had many warm days or warm nights. There are green berries, but they aren’t sizing up.”

Jordan is selling a mixture of her early crop and Maxwell’s berries at her farm stand at 21 Wells Road. The farm will not be open for picking this weekend, but she said she hopes to open late next week.

Just down the road, at Alewives Brook Farm, public strawberry picking is even less likely.

“Our farm will not be open for the Strawberry Festival and I don’t know if we’ll ever get enough in the fields to open it up to the public this year,” Caitlin Jordan of Alewives said Wednesday. There are berries, she said, but not enough to ensure the fields will be consistently fruitful for pickers.

Instead, Alewives plans to pick and package strawberries only for retail sale at their farm stand at 83 Old Ocean House Road and at the Portland Farmers Market.

Farmers and u-pick enthusiasts aren’t the only ones feeling the strawberry pinch.

At the Pond Cove IGA grocery on Ocean House Road, customers have been asking when the local berries will be available, according to an assistant store manager. But they typically get their strawberries from Jordan’s Farm, so there aren’t any to sell.

The same is true at The Farm Stand on Ocean Street in South Portland, where Jordan’s is the supplier.

There’s still hope, however, for ice cream lovers.

Employee Nancy Frizzle at Red’s Dairy Freeze on Cottage Road in South Portland, which uses berries from Maxwell’s Farm for its limited annual supply of fresh strawberry soft-serve, said the tasty concoction is still expected to be available sometime next week.

She said the anticipation each year “is part of the fun.”

Krysteana Scribner contributed to this report.


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