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Northeast Ohio farmers say despite the rain, strawberries are ripe and ready for picking

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Posted at 10:41 PM, Jun 10, 2021

AVON, Ohio — They’re ripe, red, and ready for picking at Fitch’s Farm in Avon.

“It’s honestly the best strawberry crop I’ve ever seen,” said Adam Fitch. “I don’t know what it is, we just got lucky or we did something right this year but the strawberries are unbelievable. Today is our first day we’ve had pick your own.”

Fitch is the eighth generation of family farmers at Fitch Farms. He knows all too well how finicky Mother Nature can be in Northeast Ohio.

“My grandpa always said a dry year will scare you, a wet year will kill you,” he said.

But the scattered storms Northeast Ohio experienced over the past week didn’t hurt their strawberry crop, it helped.

“We’ve lucked out we just had the perfect amount. If I get four inches of rain in one day we are really going to be in a lot of trouble,” he said.

But people from all over the region showed up to pick strawberries at the farm and Fitch said they’re hoping that will continue for the next several weeks.

Some southern farmers weren’t so lucky. Trevor Clatterbuck owns Fresh Fork Market, a subscription service that delivers fresh crops to 2,500 people throughout Northeast Ohio from farmers within the region. He said the early part of the week was nerve-racking for his farmers.

“Strawberry season is very short in Ohio,” he said. “On Monday, we had two inches of rain down in Holmes County that causes the berry to swell and it’s going to be soft, so when the guys go out to pick them they have to be real careful when they check them for the firmness and that assures you you have a tasty berry but one with a shelf life,” he said.

He said they had a good harvest of strawberries the latter part of the week. But the pressure for a lot of strawberries is felt throughout the farming community due to the increase in demand farmers and his company has seen throughout the pandemic.

“Strawberries get everyone excited,” he said.

Fitch’s Farm saw a 20% increase in sales last strawberry season.

“Last year at this time we were absolutely slammed cause we opened the beginning of June. We had people coming, meeting at our farm, keeping socially distanced but seeing friends they hadn’t seen in three or four or five months,” said Fitch.

He’s hopeful those new faces they saw last season will return this summer.

“Farmers gamble every single day. You never know what tomorrow is going to bring,” he said.