Strawberry patches busy after late startBy Emily Etheredge Published 4:26pm Friday, May 3, 2013
Calera twins Paul and David Schmid have been picking strawberries in Chilton County since they were 18 months old.
“I try to make this a family tradition,” the twins’ mother Tricia Schmid said. “I picked fresh strawberries with my grandmother and have many fond memories of doing that so I try to bring my boys every year.”
The Schmid twins are homeschooled and decided to take an impromptu field trip on Friday morning to the Sunshine Farms U-Pick Strawberry Patch in Clanton.
Tricia said she brings the twins to Chilton County to pick strawberries because it is near their home and the berries are “delicious.”
“The boys just enjoy being outside and picking the strawberries,” Tricia said. “We will more than likely take them home and eat them or make a pound cake and put some fresh strawberries on top.”
Although Paul said he doesn’t like strawberries to eat, he enjoys picking the “big” strawberries from the patch and putting them in his white basket.
David emphatically said his favorite part about picking the strawberries is getting to eat them.
“They taste so good,” David said.
The strawberry patch officially opened on April 27, about two weeks later than the normal schedule.
Chilton Research and Extension Center Director Jim Pitts said the strawberries were two weeks later than usual this year due to the cold spring temperatures preventing the strawberries from ripening.
“We have just had a real cold spring where we didn’t have any warm sunny days to ripen up the berries,” Pitts said. “There were a lot of misshapen beds and things but we finally got all of that off and now they are ripe and I think they might be some of the prettiest berries I have seen in a while.”
Pitts said strawberries have to have a particular amount of warm days to get them to grow but spring temperatures stayed cool delaying the berries.
Now, the strawberry patch with more than 110,000 strawberry plants is bursting with bright red color, as the berries will be available for the next four weeks.
Dot Pinson works at Sunshine Farms and said the U-Pick Strawberry Patch will stay open for five or six weeks or until the summer heat stops the fruit from growing.
Hilda and Ros Hicks from Montevallo come and pick strawberries every year in Chilton County filling up their baskets with strawberries for Hilda to turn into strawberry jam.
“I will probably also freeze most of them and give some away,” Hilda said. “We just love coming and picking the strawberries because we enjoy being outside.”
Ros said he enjoys picking the ripe strawberries as opposed to buying them from the grocery store because it is more enjoyable to go through the process of picking them straight from the ground.
“It is just fun,” Ros said. “We enjoy coming here each year when we hear the strawberries are ready and it isn’t far from our home.”
For more information and daily updates about the patch, call the U-Pick Strawberry Patch at (205) 755-4203 or (205) 280-0242.