South Sound farmers are gearing up for strawberry season, which starts a little early this year after a mild spring.
The Olympia Farmers Market is still a top spot for buying locally grown strawberries this summer. Johnson Berry Farm opened its roadside stand Monday morning on Wiggins
Road in Olympia, but sold organic strawberries over the weekend in a “test run” at the farmers market.
Strawberry season typically lasts about four weeks, said Jim Johnson, although his farm sells the fruit all summer until the first frost. In July, Johnson and other farmers will start selling berries, including raspberries, blueberries, marionberries and blackberries.
“It’s in my blood,” said Johnson, who started his farm in 1975 and runs it with his wife, Lisa. Several of Johnson’s relatives are berry farmers in the Puyallup Valley, where his great-grandfather had originally bought land from Native Americans.
Strawberry season officially kicks off the week of June 9 for Spooner Berry Farms, which has 12 U-pick locations in the area. Sue Spooner, who runs the farm with her husband, Tim, recommends checking at spoonerberryfarms.com for updated information on U-pick sites.
“The strawberries are just unbelievable this year,” said Spooner, describing them as juicy and sweet. “We’ve had kind of a mild spring. Even though it’s been wet, we’ve had warm weather.”
Rising River Farm in Rochester will bring its strawberries to the farmers market in about two weeks, said farmhand Ian Lockaby, adding that the berries are ripening and almost ready.
“When they’re nice and red all over,” he said, “that’s when it’s time.”
Strawberries are also nutritious. Strawberries have a higher combination of antioxidants than many popular fruits, according to the Washington State University Master Gardeners of Clark County, which reports that 1 cup of strawberries has 50 calories, 4 grams of fiber, 94 milligrams of vitamin C and no fat.
The U.S. produces about 30 percent — 1.3 million metric tons — of the world’s strawberries, more than any other country, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Andy Hobbs: 360-704-6869 email@example.com