Shelton farmer Terry Jones may have grown commercial strawberries longer than anyone else in Connecticut, having continuously harvested the red, juicy fruit for a half century, according to state Agriculture Commissioner Steven K. Reviczky.
Jones, of Jones Family Farms, is celebrating 50 years of strawberry harvests this year. The 400-acre farm in Shelton’s White Hills section opened last week for the 2014 strawberry pick-your-own season.
“I guess you might call it more of a ‘Strawberry Red Anniversary’ than the typical ‘Golden Anniversary’ that honors a half century of tradition,” Jones said.
“Since it takes a year for the plants to begin production, it’s a two-year celebration,” he said. “In 2013, we recognized the 50th anniversary of planting the ‘Queen of Fruits,’ and 2014 marks the 50th harvest.”
Constants over a half century
Two aspects of strawberries have remained constant over the last half-century, Jones said. First, the challenge of the weather. This spring has been no exception.
“Fortunately we haven’t experienced any big heat waves so far this 2014 spring season,” he said. And Jones pointed out, “this was the first time in 50 years we have not needed to protect the strawberry blossoms from frost.”
The second constant, according to Jones, “is the excitement and passion of our farm guests to harvest and to taste the sweet goodness of the first, ripe strawberries of the season.”
Connecticut strawberries are ripening now, as they normally do in mid-June, just a little later due to the slow arrival of spring after the endless snow of last winter.
Call the farm’s crop line for updates
Jones Family Farms is located off Route 110, with alternating strawberry-picking locations at Pumpkinseed Hill on Beardsley Road and Valley Farm on Walnut Tree Hill Road.
For the latest picking information (locations, times, harvest updates), call the Jones Family Farms’ recorded crop line at 203-929-8425. Picking hours are Monday to Saturday from 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m., and Sunday from 8 a.m.-noon.
Learn more about strawberry picking at the farm at www.jonesfamilyfarms.com/farm/strawberries.