By Rick Miller
It’s strawberry picking time.
At Great Valley Berry Patch on Humphrey Road, families head to the fields with strawberry shortcake and strawberry jam on their minds.
Late last week, Desirae Bugman of Dalton was picking strawberries with her daughter, Phoenix, 3, who delighted in counting the strawberries in the wooden quart container.
Bugman’s mother, Delores Panata of Friendship, brought them to pick strawberries to make jam for wedding favors. The wedding is July 28 and Bugman and her mother are looking to make 140 4 oz. jars of strawberry jam.
Nearby, Mary and Larry Skroback, of Olean, and their grandsons from South Carolina, Joshua and Hudson, were picking two big bowls of strawberries.
“We’re just getting enough for a little jam and some strawberry shortcake,” Mary Skroback said. “We may come back when they have beans, too.”
The first strawberries ripened June 12, just before Father’s Day. It’s been pretty much non-stop since then,” said Nadyne Litchfield, one of the owners. She’s partners in the enterprise with her husband Keith and daughter Pam.
Arrive early if you want to buy strawberries already picked. On “graduation Friday” people order flats of strawberries, “so it goes pretty fast,” Nadyne Litchfield said. Picked strawberries go fast on Father’s Day weekend as well.
Pam Litchfield said they expect the strawberries to last until about July 10.
“The rainier it is, the shorter the season,” she said. “If it’s dry, the season will be longer.”
People come in to ask how the you-pick strawberries work. Take a container go out into the fields and look for strawberries.
“If you don’t see what you want, go to the next field and the next,” Pam Litchfield said. “It’s L-shaped,” she said of the fields.
The Litchfields have 5½ acres of strawberries.
“There’s a full acre we haven’t opened yet,” Pam Litchfield said. “We expect to go until July 10, but it depends on the weather.” Another half acre holds late summer strawberries that have proved popular with customers, she said.
The “you-pick” peas will be ready next week. Raspberries should be ready by July 4, with blueberries and beans by mid-July. Fall crops of strawberries and raspberries will be available as will you-pick sweet corn and pumpkins, Nadyne Litchfield said.
New this year at the Great Valley Berry Patch are shortcake biscuits, along with strawberry pies and strawberry jam.
“We’re going to add more later,” Nadyne Litchfield said.
Don’t worry if it’s raining when you arrive to pick strawberries. Pam Litchfield said a couple brought umbrellas with them last week.
“But not if there’s lightning,” she added.
To see if the Great Valley Berry Patch is open, check their Facebook page, where they post updates on what’s available and what time they are open. Most days it is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Remember the Humphrey Road is closed on the Humphrey end, so don’t forget to take an alternate route.