Strawberry picking returns to Jones Family Farm
SHELTON — Strawberry season at Jones Family Farms has arrived — and not even a pandemic can stop it.
Terry Jones, whose family has operated the farms — which now feature a winery — for generations, said while the picking protocols have changed, the pleasure of picking — and eating — fresh strawberries remains unmatched.
“People have been cooped up … so getting outside is so important,” said Jones. “Getting out and walking the fields, it is probably even more important than in years past. It is a relaxing, pleasant experience and people need that now.”
Jones Family Farm has created an online reservation system to help control crowd size and maintain social distancing. Jones said the new system allows for picking with social distancing in mind. There are 15 acres of strawberries with divided fields and assigned alternate rows to keep everyone spread out.
“There are two ways to get your fresh Jones berries — first, fresh ‘just-picked’ strawberries are harvested daily by us,” said Jones.
The fresh picked baskets are available at the Homestead Farm Winery, 606 Walnut Tree Hill Road, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. or while the supply lasts. There’s a curbside kiosk with the farms’ berries and wine by the bottle.
The farms also offer the traditional “harvest-your-own” strawberries. People are asked to go to jonesfamilyfarms.com, go to the “Book Now” button and select a time.
“Our goal is to socially distance pickers in the fields throughout the day so you’ll enjoy a relaxed experience,” said Jones. “We strongly encourage making reservations.”
The traditional ferry berry ride is gone, at least this year, but Jones said people have appreciated the new protocols.
“We’ve had very positive comments … people are glad to get outside,” said Jones. “We’re still figuring it out as we go along, but people are appreciative.”
Some 50 years ago, Terry Jones returned from a trip across the country to bring a new crop to his father’s Christmas Tree Farm. Jones planted strawberry vines and ever since, Jones Family Farms has invited guests to come and harvest their own strawberries.
Jones refers to the strawberry as the “perfect fruit,” and every June the fields at Pumpkinseed Hill and the Valley Farm are speckled with the brilliant red berries. Strawberries are the first fruits of the summer, and the season lasts only three to four short weeks.
“There is nothing like fresh strawberries,” said Jones, “and the outdoors is really the best place to be.”