The strawberries at Restoration Farm have gone through a rough patch. Maybe it’s the heavy rain. The plants look a bit trampled. But, I suppose everyone feels a bit downtrodden at times.
I can still remember last season’s pert and iridescent deep red berries. This year, the berries have been smaller and far more tart. Some are odd shapes. You really have to search to find them. I am reminded again that the farm is far from a still life, and every season is a new moment in time.
Head grower Caroline Fanning tells me it’s probably the last week for the strawberries. How did the time go so quickly? She suggests picking two quarts so the remaining berries don’t rot on the vine and loans me a second container. “You’ve really got to put in the time to find them, though,” she advises.
I stoop in a field that appears to have experienced some trauma. Some of the berries are soft, or even moldy from the rain. A woman who is picking nearby says it smells like strawberry wine. If you breathe deep, there is an intense sweet aroma, and here and there, you can still find a perfect gem. Despite the trauma, there is potential and many CSA members are in the field still searching for possibilities.
Glenn Aldridge, the caretaker of the strawberries, tells me to hunt in the heavier growth at the center of the field and I will be rewarded.
“But, I don’t want to trample the plants,” I tell him.
“Trample away,” he says. “In a week and a half, the whole field will be turned under. Next season we start fresh again.”
How many times do you get a free pass to stomp to your heart’s content? And, how often do you get a chance at a fresh start? I need to remember this when I leave the farm. My perseverance unearths nearly two quarts of strawberries.
Although the strawberries may be leaving us too quickly, all over the Sweet Field, there are signs of new possibilities, like deep pink blossoms signaling midsummer blackberries…
And, the first of the blueberries, with just a slight flush of purple visible.
A Gingered Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie (recipe found here) reminds me that while at times it may not be obvious, you can always uncover some sweet possibilities.
And, if the pie happens to crack in half if you’ve tried to move it before it’s sufficiently cooled, remember the lesson from the strawberry field of what’s possible, and turn it into a perfectly acceptable and very tasty strawberry-rhubarb crisp.
©2011 T.W. Barritt all Rights Reserved