Wait and see. Play it by ear. That’s the prevailing sentiment from Lancaster County growers about this year’s strawberry harvest, particularly at pick-your-own farms. Last year’s pick-your-own season was called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which means there’s a clientele clamoring to make up for lost time and do some berry picking. The increased demand/interest combined with recent temperature swings and minimal rain (and uncertain harvests) have led many growers to take a more reserved approach, begging off final details for as long as possible.
But the berries are here, and they are notably sweet, packing a motherlode of concentrated sugars due to the dry conditions.
A few things to consider before heading out for a picking adventure:
— All the local growers we spoke with recommend calling ahead or checking social media for the latest reports on weather conditions and harvests. If a field gets “picked out,” a grower may be forced to suspend picking for a few days.
— A flexible attitude will come in handy for aspiring pickers; if the stars don’t align for PYO, rest assured that strawberries are popping up at stands across the county.
— Just because strawberries are plentiful doesn’t mean they’ll be here in July. Seize the strawberry moment and load up pronto while supplies last. (Remember, they freeze really well.)
BROOK LAWN FARM MARKET
2325 Lititz Pike, Neffsville
When: Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m. to noon. (Be aware that PYO hours are different from market hours.)
Details: Upon arrival, follow signs that will direct cars to park on the grass, then walk to the field. Boxes provided. $5 per quart; 6 quarts for $25. Cash preferred.
For updates: facebook.com/BrookLawnFarmMarket; 717-569-4748.
CHERRY HILL ORCHARDS
400 Long Lane, New Danville
When: Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Details: Upon arrival, follow signs for strawberry picking, which is about 1/4 mile from market on Long Lane. Boxes provided. $5 per quart; 5 quarts for $20.
3145 Division Highway, New Holland
When: Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Details: Farmer Curvin Nolt (brother to Jonas at Farm Wagon Produce) is excited about his inaugural strawberry harvest. $2.25 per pound. Containers are provided, but pickers are welcome to bring their own.
For updates: 717-354-3922.
FARM WAGON PRODUCE
1061 Weaverland Road, East Earl
When: Monday through Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Details: Strawberries are farmer Jonas Nolt’s specialty; he grows 13 varieties on 5 acres, which means he has picked strawberries available at the stand through October. PYO berries are $2.25 per pound. You may bring your own containers.
For updates: 717-354-2041.
FIRST FRUITS FARM & ORCHARD
51 Cocalico Road, Stevens
When: Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Details: Boxes provided; $3.50 per quart, cash only.
30 Erbs Bridge Road, Lititz
When: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Details: PYO will begin this week, assures Vernon Weaver, but as of press time, he could not say exactly when. Due to the dry season, the berries are not just sweeter but bigger, Weaver said. Price per pound TBD. Pickers may bring containers. Picked strawberries available for purchase at stand.
For updates: 717-733-1048.
170 Buch Ave., Neffsville
When: PYO will begin this week, said Renee Kreider, who suggests that pickers call ahead to get the scoop on conditions and harvest. Berries by the pint or quart are available for purchase at the stand.
Details: Cash or check only.
For updates: Facebook.com/Kreiders-Strawberries-105493834510589; 717-569-3421.
1031 Valley View Road, New Holland
When: Six days a week, depending on weather conditions and harvest.
Details: You must call to reserve a row. Boxes are provided. Price is per pound. This is the last season for Harvey and Grace Sauder, who have been growing strawberries for 44 years. (See our interview with Grace in the sidebar.)
For updates and to reserve: facebook.com/sauderstrawberries; 717-572-8394.
SHENK’S BERRY FARM
911 Disston View Drive, Lititz
When: PYO season is underway, with morning hours (8 a.m. to noon), but farmer John Shenk urges pickers to check their website, which is being updated daily. Picking days may be staggered or suspended early in the season due to high demand.
Details: Cash or check only.
For updates: shenkberryfarm.com; 717-626-6194.
40 Fruit Lane, Morgantown
When: Monday through Thursday and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; Friday 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; hours dependent on weather conditions. (Hours differ from market hours.)
Details: Pickers may not use their own containers. Minimum purchase one-quart container required. Credit cards accepted.
For updates: weaversorchard.com; 610-856-7300.
FORMERLY PYO BUT STILL GROWING BERRIES
Manheim area readers may be familiar with Gloria and Phil Myers, who have been growing strawberries for more than 40 years. Due to the pandemic, the Myers transitioned to a mostly wholesale operation last year. That change remains in effect this year, said Gloria Myers, who still goes out in the morning to pull weeds and pick berries. A neighboring Amish farm owned by David Stoltzfus is selling the berries at their stand along Route 230 east of Mount Joy. Myers says to look for the Sheetz and you’re very close.