RICHFIELD — April generally marks the beginning of the annual strawberry picking season, both in Stanly County and across North Carolina. Locally, Cody’s Strawberry Farm in Richfield says they are almost ready to welcome the crowds who show up every year to pick their own berries or to buy the pre-picked berries they have for sale.
Strawberry growers across North Carolina should have a healthy crop to offer, according to the state’s agricultural commissioner, Steve Troxler, who said in a press release, “There should be plenty of berries this year despite a wet and cold first quarter in 2019.”
“I do think,” Jennifer Cody told SCJ when asked if Troxler was correct about the strawberry season being a good one. “I just think it’s going to be a late start. Last time this year, we were already in full swing. But due to the weather, it’s kind of slowed things down some.”
Troxler also encouraged families in the state “to visit a pick-your-own farm, go to a farmers market or stop by a roadside stand to get the freshest berries available.”
Cody’s is a Stanly County favorite to do just that. She said they are “busy every day” during strawberry season with church groups, school field trips and families who want not only the strawberries, but also the experience of picking them.
“We always strive to sell our products fresh every day,” Cody said about the family farm, which is in its 14th year of offering strawberries. “We pick fresh every day and we try to sell fresh every day. We don’t hold anything over until the next day for selling or anything like that. We’re family friendly; we have a playground; we have strawberry slushies that we offer; we have other produce that you can buy.”
The other produce their farm sells includes early crops like broccoli, lettuce, cabbage and onions, as well as later crops like squash, greenhouse tomatoes, cucumbers and corn.
Despite the delayed opening, which Cody’s Facebook page notes will likely be towards the end of April, there were already a lot of excited fans ready to come by.
“I can’t wait to bring my grand baby to pick some strawberries!!!” said one. Many others simply said, “I can’t wait!”
Cody said the pandemic has not changed their overall operations too much, because they already had strict sanitation requirements for employees.
“My workers will wear masks and gloves, and they try to socially distance, but they always have tried to take precautions like this and keep people spread out,” Cody said. “The fields are big, so we’ve never really had trouble keeping people far from each other.”
For those who are not planning on picking their own, strawberries grown in North Carolina can already be found in stores, since eastern N.C. farmers have an earlier harvest time, according to the N.C. State Extension. In the Piedmont, which includes Stanly County, harvest often begins in mid-April, and for the western part of the state, it doesn’t begin until early May.
N.C. has about 1,100 acres of strawberries harvested every year, making it the fourth-largest strawberry grower in the nation. To purchase strawberries from the state, pick those with a “Got to Be NC” sticker. This sticker is the state’s way of promoting produce grown in the state as part of the “Got to Be NC Program.”
The North Carolina Department of Agriculture, along with the North Carolina Strawberry Association, will have two “Strawberry Day” events to promote the season. Both events will be in May. The first will be at the State Farmers Market just south of downtown Raleigh on May 2. The second will be at the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market in Colfax the next day.
These events celebrate everything strawberry, with strawberry ice cream samples, a strawberry-themed recipe contest, and even a strawberry mascot named Suzy Strawberry.
To get the exact opening date for Cody’s Strawberry Farm, follow their Facebook page or call 704-791-0342 for automated updates.