~ Local, fresh strawberries available statewide ~
Spring has ushered in a bumper crop of fresh, juicy strawberries across the Commonwealth and Virginia’s strawberry growers expect this will be a strong season. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) encourages strawberry lovers to support their local producers and Virginia’s economy by purchasing fresh, Virginia Grown strawberries from a local farm, farmers’ market or grocery store.
“Each year, strawberry season generates approximately $9 million in sales revenue for Virginia growers,” said VDACS Commissioner Sandy Adams. “With an abundance of fresh strawberries available, this would be the perfect time for strawberry lovers to visit a pick-your-own farm or farmers’ market.”
According to Virginia Strawberry Growers Association President Kane Lloyd, there are approximately 85 larger-scale commercial strawberry growers in Virginia, many located in the Tidewater region. The last U.S. Department of Agriculture Census of Agriculture showed a total of 263 strawberry growers in Virginia with 252 harvested acres.
VDACS maintains a database of pick-your-own strawberry patches and farmers’ markets on VirginiaGrown.com. Since strawberry season is relatively brief and the peak can vary region-to-region, strawberry lovers should contact local growers to find out when their strawberries will be ripe, their hours of operation and how the farm’s berries are sold. Some have pick-your-own fields, some sell pre-picked strawberries and other growers sell their berries at local markets. Many Virginia farms post regular updates to their website, blog and social media accounts.
Celebrate Virginia’s strawberry season at any of the following festivals:
· Strawberry Jubilee at Great Country Farms, May 13-14, Bluemont (Loudoun County)
· Rocky Mount Strawberry Festival, May 12, Rocky Mount (Franklin County)
· Hickory Ridge Farm’s Strawberry JAMboree, May 13, Chesapeake
· Gretna Strawberry and Wine Festival, May 13, Gretna (Pittsylvania County)
· Stanardsville Strawberry Festival, May 20, Stanardsville (Greene County)
· Stuart Strawberry Festival, May 20, Stuart (Patrick County)
· Oatlands Strawberry Festival, May 21, Leesburg (Loudoun County)
· St. Stephen’s Strawberry Festival, May 27, Heathsville (Northumberland)
· Liberty Mills Farm Strawberry Fest, May 27, Somerset (Orange County)
· Pungo Strawberry Festival, May 27-28, Virginia Beach
· Delaplane Strawberry Festival, May 27-28, Delaplane (Fauquier County)
· Ashland Strawberry Faire, June 3, Ashland (Hanover County)
-Submitted by Dawn Eischen