The brief but bountiful BC strawberry season has arrived and an exceptional crop is expected. Now is the time to enjoy one of our most fresh flavourful and healthy local harvests! The June/ July bearing strawberries will be available only for a few weeks, but some growers have everbearing ones that will be available until September. You can find local strawberries from the Eastern to Western Fraser Valley – from Chilliwack to Delta.
A great day out with the kids is to visit a strawberry farm and pick your own. To find a local pick your own strawberry farm click here
It is also worth paying that little bit extra at your local farmers market or grocer for B.C. strawberries rather than cheaper California strawberries as our local starwberry farmers are under threat. Cheaper imports, labour shortages and viruses and pathogens are all squeezing BC’s strawberry growers, who have seen their industry reduced to a tenth of the size it was 10 years ago.
“We need big support from locals to keep our industry alive,” says Jeff Gill, the owner of Gill Farms (the largest strawberry grower in BC) and a director of the Fraser Valley Strawberry Growers Association. “The season is only a month long, and if everyone knew that and supported our local producers, it would go a long way.”
Gill points out that strawberry growers are often pressured to convert their operations to blueberry farms, as blueberries require less labour to grow and pick and are sturdier than strawberries, which must be picked by hand and are more susceptible to root disease and viruses. These and other factors account for the disappearance of many Lower Mainland strawberry farms. There are now only half a dozen farms growing strawberries that are sold fresh and another half dozen growing strawberries for use in jam and food products.
Unlike their Californian counterparts – which are picked unripe – BC strawberries are handpicked at the height of ripeness to ensure they are sweet and bursting with flavour. So the best way to eat them is right away!