Vermont strawberries already ripe for the picking

BRADFORD, Vt. (WCAX) It looks like it is an early season this year for pick-your-own strawberries. And people are out in the fields taking advantage of it.

"The crop is really good this year," said Dave Pierson, who owns Pierson's Farm in Bradford.

Pierson says the berries are peaking a little bit earlier than usual. They attribute it to a mild winter and hot spring.

"A month ago I would have said no way we would be at this point, but with the tremendous heat we have had in the last couple of weeks it has really moved things ahead," Pierson said.

The Sherwoods drove down from their home on Joe's Pond in West Danville.

Diane Sherwood: We've been picking here for at least 25 years.
Don Sherwood: It is a great place. Usually they have good berries, large berries, juicy-- you can't beat them.

The farm is following guidelines for social distancing. Pickers are assigned to every other row. Everyone in the patch is also required to wear a mask. A subtle change for the same sweet reward.

"I make a lot of jam for giving away and church fairs," Diane Sherwood said.

And the strawberries seem to be flying off the plants.

"The first day we opened up-- we open at 9 o'clock-- and we had to close the patch in a half an hour," said Eric Tadlock of Cedar Circle Farm in Thetford.

By the time I got to the Cedar Circle Farm Friday, the pick-your-own patch was already closed. Because the rows and sections are assigned this year, there's only so much picking that can be done in a day. Farmers say it's a silver lining to the pandemic-- added interest in local agriculture.

"People I think are starting to realize the importance of local farms and just want to make sure we are going to be here for the long haul," Tadlock said. "That we are always going to be here in times like these when they can't really rely on the national and global food system."

Back at Pierson's Farm, Diane Mathews of Graniteville explained why she came out to the farm in just one sentence: "It's a chance to just be outside."

Unfortunately, this farm made the difficult decision not to allow kids under 13 into the fields. They say it's not ideal, but one thing they are doing to help keep the entire community safe.