It wasn’t so long ago that Ontario residents waited with anticipation each June for the arrival of local strawberries so they could enjoy as many as possible for the sweet, but short season. The end of the school year signalled that the time was right to flock to Pick-Your-Own fields to spend the day; then come home with baskets of fresh, juicy berries to eat fresh, bake with, and preserve for later.
While the arrival of a new field season is still greeted with excitement, the opportunity to enjoy local strawberries is not as short as it once was. In fact, we can enjoy locally grown strawberries for 12 months of the year now!
How is this possible?
Local growers have invested in new strawberry plant varieties that start earlier and bear fruit longer, extending our local season in the fields from May to September or even October, depending on the weather.
Kevin Schooley, the General Manager for the Berry Growers of Ontario tells us that fields today also look different from those consumers may be used to. Often “day neutral” berries or “everbearing” strawberries are grown on rows protected by plastic. The plastic keeps the soil warm and reduces the opportunities for weeds to grow. Most importantly, “The everbearing varieties are just as delicious as the summer berries we know and love.”
Another advancement that many Canadians may not be aware of is that Ontario greenhouses also now produce fresh strawberries year-round. Grown hydroponically, these berries are also very sweet and provide us with a delicious local option through every season!
Learn more about everbearing field strawberries in Ontario: https://youtu.be/pEMBtrm_Xrk
Learn more about greenhouse berries from one of Produce Made Simple’s members, Delfresco Pure: https://youtu.be/0mFFEAitqEM