Strawberry season has hit its peak at Napanee’s Paulridge Berry Farm this week.
Rows upon rows of bright red berries are just waiting to be plucked at the pick-your-own farm, which is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays, 8-4 p.m. on Saturday and closed on Sunday. Pre-picked baskets are also available.
Already there has been a steady crowd to the patch as strawberry fanatics move quickly to take advantage of the short season. This year’s season has a bit of a different feel as the COVID-19 restrictions of the last two years have been lifted.
“We thought maybe they just came the last two years because it was something to do,” joked Ruth Paul, who has owned the family-run farm with her husband Phil since 1978. “But now we think they’re coming for the berries too.”
As with any agricultural venture, so much of the success of a season is at the mercy of Mother Nature.
“Our raspberries are coming on really well,” said Ruth, noting they should be available in early July. “We’re hoping for good weather. We don’t need hail. We don’t need the tornado warnings. We don’t need the super winds that just about blow you off your feet. If it’s a normal year weather-wise, we’re going to be ok.”
The exact start date of strawberry season is always a little bit unpredictable as it could fall anywhere between the end of June or early July. Initial predictions indicated 2022 would be a late season but ultimately the berries ripened a bit earlier than usual. That makes things difficult for a family-run business when a good portion of the staff is still in high school. Fortunately classes ended on Thursday.
“That’s what farming is, it’s kind of a gamble,” said Ruth. “But for some reason we seem to like it. We wouldn’t still be here 45 years later if we weren’t enjoying what we do. Getting to see everyone and having the COVID restricted lifted has felt so freeing.”
No more restrictions means they don’t have to section off the wagon rides and their playgrounds are open for all to enjoy.
How long the strawberries stay in season is once again dependent on the weather, but so far things are looking good for the next 10 days or so. If the weather gets too hot, the berries won’t last as long.
“Next week looks like things are cooling down and being a normal summer,” said Ruth. “If it does that it’ll be a little extended season.”
Shortly after the strawberries are finished the raspberries and peas will hit their peak. For the latest crop updates visit https://www.paulridgeberryfarm.com/. Paulridge Berry Farm is located at 2115 Palace Road in Napanee.