2014 PRESS RELEASES
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May 6, 2014
Virginia Strawberry Season off to a Sweet Start
May brings local strawberries to pick-your-own patches, farmers’ markets and food festivals across the state.
Contact: Sarah Pennington, 804.786.1904
Virginia strawberry growers anticipate a strong season despite challenging weather across the state. At many farms, cool weather delayed this year’s strawberry crop by one to three weeks. But these strawberries will be worth the wait, according to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS). Cooler conditions can help boost the size of the fruit and its sugar levels, likely making this year’s Virginia Grown strawberries extra sweet and juicy.
VDACS anticipates the peak of this year’s Virginia strawberry season to arrive in early May for southeastern Virginia, where temperatures are milder; and mid- to late-May in other parts of the Commonwealth, where the weather is cooler. According to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture data from the 2012 Census of Agriculture, Virginia has 263 strawberry farms, with a total of 252 harvested acres.
For many Virginians, picking strawberries at a local farm is an annual spring tradition. Others can’t resist the sweet Virginia strawberries available at farmers’ markets and grocery stores each spring. VDACS maintains a database of Virginia pick-your-own strawberry patches and farmers’ markets on VirginiaGrown.com.
Since strawberry season is relatively brief and the peak can vary across the state, 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 patches, some sell pre-picked strawberries and other growers sell their berries at local markets. Today, many Virginia farms post updates to their website, blog or social media feeds. Farmers, consumers and markets are encouraged to use the social media hashtag #VirginiaGrown to share what’s fresh throughout the season.
Virginians can celebrate the strawberry at upcoming festivals across the state. The Gretna Strawberry and Wine Festival in Southern Virginia is May 10, 2014. The Delaplane Strawberry Festival at Sky Meadows State Park and the 31st annual Pungo Strawberry Festival in Virginia Beach are both May 24-25, 2014. This year’s Strawberry Jubilee at Great Country Farms in Northern Virginia takes place May 24, 25, 31 and June 1, 2014. And the 32nd annual Ashland Strawberry Faire in Central Virginia is June 7, 2014. VDACS provides a month-by-month online listing of food festivals taking place across the state.
Fresh, local strawberries are an excellent choice for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. Strawberries are the fifth most preferred fresh fruit in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. These sweet treats have seen an increase in domestic consumption rates due to their delicious flavor and high antioxidant levels, folate, potassium, vitamin C and fiber content, all of which are proven health aids. Strawberries are fat free, cholesterol free, sodium free, rich in manganese and low in calories too.