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May 3, 2010 10:39 AM

Early strawberries in MD

The wife and I went to the Baltimore Farmers Market yesterday (5/2) and saw a few vendors with strawberries. This is supposed to be a producers-only market, so I'm very confused. Strawberries (supposedly) don't really come into season in Maryland until middle-to-late-May. Did the warm weather we had in the last month or so cause things to get speeded up? Anybody hear anything about whether we're actually seeing local strawberries?

I'm originally from California, where strawberries are the size of baseballs. So the fact that these strawberries actually looked quite good and large makes them suspect. I imagine that if they were just picked early, they'd be smaller. I might have to harass a few of these guys next week before I plunk down some cash to buy some for my strawberry and rhubarb pie recipe.

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  1. Local means grown on the producer's farm. We have vendors from the Eastern Shore and VA, where the crops tend to come in a little earlier. And yeah, I'd bet the warm weather has probably speeded things up a little bit. We've traditionally seen early strawberries on the second week of the market, so I don't think it's that unusual to see them a week early this year. And the ones I got Sunday are darned good -- they're definitely not coming from Driscoll.

    9 Replies
    1. re: JonParker

      Down here in NOVA Westmoreland Berry Farm had strawberries this past Saturday, which seemed a bit early to me. I struck up a conversation with another farmer at the market and he told me that anybody with strawberries right now is using growth enhancers and all kinds of other stuff. Judging from the gargantuan specimens at Westmoreland's stand I'd have to agree. Still, a locally grown, pesticide-ridden berry is better than a February one from California.

      Personally I'm trying to contain myself until late May when Red Rake Farm at Arlington's Courthouse Market should have its organic strawberries--the ones I had from them last year were unreal.

      1. re: CoconutMilk

        There was at least one other vendor with strawberries at the Arlington Farmer's Market, but they looked scrawnier than the ones from Westmoreland.

        1. re: Steve

          Yeah, those were the ones from Musachio Produce Farm. I've had them in years past and they have been sour and in general not very good so I passed. But I still love his old school stand. He's got awesome sweet corn, green beans, and spring peas.

        2. re: CoconutMilk

          Thanks for the heads-up. I'll have to talk to the people this Sunday and see what they say. Does anybody know if the Agriberry company uses growth enhancers? They're from VA.

          1. re: CoconutMilk

            Did you ask him what he meant by "growth enhancers?" Does that mean fertilizers?

            1. re: MakingSense

              Nah, I didnt ask him. But those were his words. I suppose that's what he mean. I've talked to the Westmoreland guy before and he admits to using a small amount of pesticides and such, but I think its near impossible to grow fruit around here on a large scale without doing so. Red Rake's organic apples and strawberries are some of the only organic fruit I can think of at area markets.

              1. re: CoconutMilk

                There are a lot - maybe most - of the local Delmarva farmers who use little to no agricultural inputs. They use as little as possible because the stuff is expensive and they're not going to use it unless they have to.
                They don't get organic certification. Don't want to "mess with the gummint."
                Amish farmers rarely if ever use a thing but are rarely certified. On the other hand, there's a whole list of really nasty chemicals that are allowed under organic certification regulations. It matters little what they're made from, you wouldn't want to drink them.
                Confusing, isn't it?

                1. re: MakingSense

                  Do you have any references for what's allowed under organic certification regulations? I'm not doubting you. I'd just really love to see that.

                  1. re: nstoddar

                    Here's theUSDA NOP list for Allowed and Prohibited Substances:

                    This is why I don't even worry about "organic." I buy mostly from Amish farmers. They don't use anything.

        3. My dad and I went to Miller's Farm in Clinton MD on Saturday. They told us they would have berries to pick starting tomorrow (Tuesday).

          2 Replies
          1. re: Milocat1

            Takoma Park Farmer's Market has had strawberries from one vendor for the past 2 weeks but they sell out within minutes.

            1. re: msjess

              There were a ton of early strawberries at the White House Farmers market today