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Agriculture / Conservation News
CT Grown Strawberries Ripe for the Picking

By Linda Piotrowicz, CT Department of Agriculture

  JUNE 2009 --

Aside from the name and the ruby-red color, CT Grown strawberries bear little resemblance to their long-distance relatives.
“There is no comparison,” said Jonathan Rapp, chef-owner of River Tavern Restaurant (www.rivertavernchester.net) in Chester and co-founder of the nationally acclaimed Dinners at the Farm (www.dinnersatthefarm.com) series.  “Local berries are one of the early gems of summer, well worth the wait.  Fruits shipped in from across the country in winter pale in comparison.  Berries grown here in our own state are picked at the peak of ripeness, flavor, and juiciness, and have such intense, delicious flavor, whether incorporated into a dish or eaten plain, just the way nature delivers.”
Strawberry growers across Connecticut who have used row cover on their crops are beginning to harvest their first berries this week and are optimistic for a very good season.  Pell Farms (www.pell-farms.com) in Somers and Pumpkin Paul’s Farm in Tolland hope to open the first of their pick-your-own fields to customers this weekend.
“I think those warm days we had this spring really pushed the crop ahead; we had blossoms in April, earlier than usual.  The berries look great – good size, quality, and excellent flavor,” said Roger Pell.

According to Agriculture Commissioner F. Philip Prelli, pick-your-own is a popular family activity that is appropriate for children and adults of all ages.
“As more and more families enjoy ‘staycations,’ we have seen an upswing in pick-your-own and other on-farm activities.  It’s a terrific way for families and friends to enjoy fresh air, beautiful scenery, nutritious and delicious food, and to spend some quality time together.”
Growers that prefer to leave their plants exposed to the elements will begin harvesting in early- to mid-June.  Rose’s Berry Farm (www.rosesberryfarm.com) in South Glastonbury anticipates their first strawberries to come in just in time for their Sunday “Breakfast with a View” season.  This popular attraction, which kicks off June 14, offers customers an opportunity relax on the covered patio overlooking scenic farmland, and enjoy a stack of steaming homemade pancakes topped with berries fresh from the field.
Approximately 220 acres in Connecticut are dedicated to strawberries, producing some 2.6 million pounds of fruit annually.  The season lasts but a few weeks, however, so residents are encouraged to enjoy them while they are here.  Many communities celebrate the season with strawberry festivals during June that feature music, entertainment, and, of course, lots of the sweet, juicy, gems served in a multitude of ways.
Pick-your-own, ready-picked, or served as part of a delicious dish, CT Grown strawberries are a can’t-lose proposition.  To find a farm, farmers’ market, or farm stand near you, go to the CT Department of Agriculture’s website at www.CTGrown.gov and click on “Publications.”


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