Taste test is a particularly enjoyable experience

    There’s a place where you can get farm-fresh organic strawberries and it’s closer than you think. Valley Berry Natural Strawberry Farm is located east of Fertile and is owned and operated by the Halstad family. Darwin Halstad says they have 3/4 of an acre dedicated to five different varieties of strawberries that are available for the picking, either by him or by guests that come to visit.

    Half the crop is everbearing, which means they produce sweet red berries from early summer through the fall. The other half of the crop are junebearing plants which produce one large crop of fruit each growing season, typically in June. Junebearing usually produce more “runners” or extensions off the original plant allowing the Halstad’s to continue to make new plants.

    Valley Berry grows five varieties of strawberries that include Seascape, Evie, Jewel, Cavendish and Heirloom. They’re each lined with “drip tape” and straw that allow for easier watering and easier walking for people who come to pick their own berries.

    “We grow around 4,500 strawberry plants,” explained Halstad. “They’re all red and fresh, no white parts like you might find at certain stores.”

    “We’re right by the river which is perfect soil for strawberries,” he added. “You pick, we pick, whatever you want.”

TASTE TEST

    A taste-test was definitely necessary on the tour of Valley Berry and this is what Times’ Assistant Editor Jess Bengtson reports after trying each variety:

    Cavendish: “This strawberry was the perfect shape, is a larger variety and had a great color and taste.”

    Heirloom: “These guys are smaller, really sweet, soft and succulent.”

    Seascape: “They are big, super red and have a nice sweet taste.”

    Jewel: “This was the nicest, juiciest strawberry I’ve ever eaten. The juice literally went all over me. It tasted great in the 80-degree warm weather.”

    Evie: “This one was a deep red with a very flavorful taste.”

    Valley Berry Natural Strawberry Farm is open by appointment or pick up by calling Darwin at (218) 280-7996.