Saturday we all journeyed to the fertile Kent valley, south of Seattle, to pick strawberries at Lazy River Farm–a small, family-owned field of berries and flowers.
The favored variety here is Benton, a sweet, flavorful berry well-suited to the Northwest climate and soil. There is something about picking them yourself that makes them even yummier than they already are.
It hasn’t been a good year for local berry farmers. The first half of June was atypically hot and dry, and strawberries favor a temperate spring–one of the reasons they normally thrive here on the west side of the state. The picking season for these small farms is usually four or five weeks long—this year it’s winding down after only two weeks.
The Kent valley holds some of the most fertile farmland on the entire earth, and is often compared to the Nile valley. The rich soil is now mostly covered in enormous concrete industrial structures, though some family farms persist. I grew up in this area, and my mom took my sister Kelly and me strawberry-picking every summer. I remember being in awe of my mother’s super-picking powers–her bucket was always full while mine had only an inch or so of berries in the bottom, just like Blueberries for Sal. I’m happy to carry on the tradition with my own daughter (though she is a much more industrious picker than I was).
We’d gathered ten pounds of strawberries when my co-pickers began complaining of heat and hunched postures! But that’s plenty for jam and nibbling.
The hot weather has been good, at least, for the raspberries, which will be ripening at the local u-pick farms in a week or so. Be sure and buy or pick plenty! Let’s show the love for our local farmers–our business completes the circle…
Lazy River Farm in Kent doesn’t have a website, but they are open in season on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays from 9-5. Their address is 27010 78th Avenue S. Always call ahead for berry status: 206.963.5079.