Summer is officially 15 days away, but over on Jones Family Farm in Shelton, it’s the unofficial start. Today is the first day you can start picking your own strawberries – a great feat, following a long winter and a tornado that hit north of the farm weeks ago.
Marjie Brake has been picking strawberries at Jones Family Farm for 26 years and said it’s a summer tradition she looks forward to immediately after Memorial Day.
“I’d have my kids, and I’d throw my stroller in the middle section there on the Berry Ferry,” Brake said. “And we’d ride out. Everyone would learn how to pick fruit. You didn’t get to eat fruit unless you helped to pick.”
She and dozens of others were out Wednesday, sifting through the leaves for that sweet, juicy treat. Jones Family Farm is the oldest continuously operated pick-your-own strawberry farm in the state.
Jamie Jones is the sixth generation to run the farm and he’s been working all year for a short, successful four-week season.
“For strawberries,” Jones said, “you’re at the complete whim of Mother Nature and what the weather’s going to give you.”
His 15 acres of berries were nearly destroyed by the May tornado.
“We’re very fortunate about the tornados. They were just a few miles north of us, so my heart goes out to the farmer and the people with the damage they had,” Jones said.
It’s been an overall long stroke of luck, with temperatures holding in ideal conditions and never falling below freezing.
“This is probably the first time in 50 years that we’ve never had a frost,” Jones said.
There’s no other powerful heatwave in sight either, which he said could make this picking season one of the best yet.