Local strawberries have arrived

The long wait is over: Fresh, locally grown strawberries are now available in South Sound.

“I’m so excited to see these,” Teri Bevelacqua of Olympia said while buying a flat of strawberries Monday morning at Johnson Berry Farm.

By noon, the stand at 2908 Wiggins Road S.E., was sold out.

“Everybody is so ready for them,” said owner Lisa Johnson, who also sells berries and jams at the Olympia Farmers Market with her husband, James.

Local growers say their strawberry harvest is about two weeks late, thanks to the cold and soggy spring that was served up by La Niña. The region experienced one of the chilliest Mays on record. Ideal conditions for strawberries are sunny and dry weather, Johnson said.

But there’s a plus side to such a late harvest, said Sue Spooner, owner of Spooner Berry Farms, 3327 Yelm Highway.

“This year we’ll have plenty of berries for the Fourth of July,” she said.

A lot of customers have asked if the cold temperatures affected the taste and quality of the berries, but Spooner doesn’t think so.

“It is totally amazing – the berries are absolutely beautiful,” she said.

But berry lovers should act quickly because it looks as though it’s going to be a short season, said Jeff Schilter, owner of Schilter Family Farm, 141 Nisqually Cutoff Road S.E.

“The early stuff is late, and the late stuff is normal,” he said. “We usually pick for about 30 days. We probably have another two weeks.”

A first flat of mouth-watering South Sound strawberries has so much potential: They can be turned into strawberry shortcake, jam, smoothies, drizzled in chocolate or sliced over a bowl of ice cream.

Bevelacqua said her family planned to wash and eat them the way Mother Nature intended.

“They won’t make it into anything,” she said with a laugh.

Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433