Summer Blog Post #1

by Sherrie Kelly

June 2013

Summer is officially upon us, with the solstice now past, corn taking over many of the rolling North Country fields, and strawberries in abundance here at the Sustainability House. Because our own berry plants are still in their first year and will not bear fruit until next season, we took a field trip to the Martin’s farm in Stockholm where their acres of organic strawberries draw “You-Pick” customers from far and wide.

We were warned to arrive before two o’clock because even though we wouldn’t be allowed to pick until then, all the other fanatic berry-pickers would already be there and raring to go. Sure enough, in this first week of the much-coveted berry season, a dozen or more cars were already lined up when we pulled in at exactly 1:45. As we found out, people are crazy about their strawberries!

 At precisely the hour of two, we were allowed to park and walk back to the fields, each of us taking a row and picking the bushes on either side. In the hot sun, we bent over, plucking ripe berries from their thin green stems, moving down the rows and quickly filling our buckets to the brim. Around us were people of all ages, excited to be outdoors and partaking in this early-summer tradition. Little kids screamed and ran from row to row, while the more serious pickers moved methodically forward, thoroughly picking through each plant. It was near impossible to resist the temptation to eat “the perfect berry,” so by the time we finished in the field our tummies were full to bursting; but we certainly weren’t complaining.

Between the four of us, we picked 85 pounds of strawberries in a little over an hour (and yes, this is A LOT!), so much that the cashier’s scale couldn’t even register our heavy containers. What does one do with eighty-five pounds of strawberries, you ask? We took our bounty home and spent the next hours in the kitchen, washing, hulling, slicing and freezing to stock the freezer with gallons of red, juicy goodness. We canned for the first time this summer, putting up 18 pints of jam for students to enjoy next semester. Freezing and canning took care of most of the berries, and the rest we saved for eating: strawberry shortcake, smoothies, sliced over cereal, a handful here and there… oh me oh my, we are one berry happy crew!