Here in Mid Coast Maine, June is synonymous with strawberries and strawberry picking. From early June until mid to late July, weather permitting, nature bestows upon us the sweetest, ripest berries on Earth.
Strawberries like warm, dry weather as they mature and ripen. Too much rain and they are subjected to rot, mildew and decay before they ever reach the consumer. So far this season, Maine’s weather has been a mixed bag, with some periods of dry weather and some periods of wet. Despite this, the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service’s David Handley, Maine strawberries seem to be fairing better than other New England states and having a better year than in recent years.
We were determined this week to score a few quarts of berries when we set out for Fairwinds Farm in Bowdoinham, Maine. A sprawling farm on the banks of the Kennebec River, it’s one of the few places left in the area that actually let you pick your own. We set out on an optimistic note, even though rain and thunderstorms were predicted.
Five minutes after our arrival, the skies opened up and it began to pour, and pour. And pour. We stayed as long as we could, but when it didn’t appear to be letting up anytime soon, we cashed out and took home our meager four quarts, promising to return on a better day.
As we waited for the storm to let up, we got a chance to listen to the locals grumbling about unruly children and line-crossers, those people who crowd you even when there’s rows of berries available for picking. And they complained about the rain, how it adds unwanted weight to your purchase.
No one, however, complained about the berries at Fairwinds. Theirs is a smaller variety, particularly sweet and juicy. And certainly no one complained about the price, either. Fairwinds’ owners Pete and Cathy Karonis like to keep it affordable, charging only $1.50 per pound, which amounts to under $3.00 per quart. That’s phenomenally lower than the market price here, which is about $5.00 a quart.
Not only is the price amazingly low, the Karonis’ run a special deal every Wednesday for kids – anyone under 12 gets a free quart. You’ve gotta love it – kids, strawberries and good prices!
We’ll definitely be visiting Fairwinds again this season, weather permitting of course. In the meantime, my thoughts are turning now to strawberry dessert!
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