With strawberries ripening on their runners, Ward’s Berry Farm in Sharon had a busy weekend. Upward of 2,000 people came through to pick their own strawberries, along with peas, flowers, and tulip bulbs.
“These two days, Saturday and Sunday, were probably the best we’ve ever had,” said Alex Hammond, the farm’s operations manager, who has worked at Ward’s Berry Farm for six years.
Families visited for a Father’s Day weekend celebration or just to find outdoor activities: picking berries, meeting farm animals, enjoying the sunny days. Pick-your-own strawberries are $5 a pint — roughly a pound — or $30 for four quarts, about 7 pounds.
“They’ve really shown up in droves and helped support us as a local business; it’s been fantastic,” Hammond said. “It’s been a really good year this year, everyone’s been able to get really big, beautiful strawberries and have a good time.”
In New England, strawberry season typically stretches from June to early July, a harbinger of early summer days. Massachusetts had 221 commercial farms growing strawberries on about 320 acres in 2017, the most recent year the US Department of Agriculture conducted its Census of Agriculture. By comparison, the state had about 3,739 acres growing apple trees the same year — and 13,555 acres, or just over 21 square miles, of cranberry bogs.
Anticipating a busy season, Boston Hill Farm in North Andover has doubled the size of its strawberry growing area since last year, farmer Melissa Gaudette said.
“We planted two fields instead of one because last year was so successful,” Gaudette said. “We are about three weeks in. We have about a week or so left, and then we’re going to switch over to blueberries and raspberries.”
Once people pick their own strawberries — at $4.49 per pound, no reservation required — they can stop by the farmstand to get recipe booklets and other ingredients to turn them into baked goods, like biscuit mix and heavy whipping cream for strawberry shortcake, Gaudette said. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, they have expanded their offerings to include a deli counter and some frozen foods.
“We’ve been pretty busy,” she said.
Gal Tziperman Lotan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 617-929-2043.