Field Trip: Strawberry Picking

Hand Farm in Greenwich, New York. Strawberry fields.
Hand Melon Farm in Greenwich, New York. Strawberry fields.

Visit: Hand Melon Farm, Greenwich, New York, about a twenty minute drive east of Saratoga Springs.

Several years ago, I discovered my secret super power: the power to pick large amounts of fruit very quickly. 75 pounds of peaches in 15 minutes. Then ten pounds of apricots in just a few minutes.

This super power, I believe, is a combination of several factors:

  1. I do very much enjoy dirt under my fingernails, muddy knees, or all around getting dirty.
  2. Clothes are meant to get dirty, sitting in the dirt is fun.
  3. I’ve learned to carry large amounts of produce efficiently with my left hand while keeping my much more useful right hand free.
  4. I don’t mind sweating.
  5. Skin heals. Thorns are no fun, but I’m not scared if they’re in the way of my fruit.
  6. I don’t like being out in the sun for long periods of time, making it perfect motivation to move quickly.
  7. I have excellent color recognition (yes, the dress was black and blue people).
  8. I have squirmy and fidgety fingers after years of knitting and daily knife work.
  9. I have a serious love of fruit. If I could live on fruit alone, I would.
Jewel strawberries at Hand Melon Farm.
Jewel strawberries at Hand Melon Farm.

Tree fruit, such as peaches, apricots and citrus, all of my previous fruit picking experience, are friendly, easy going fruit, eager to get off the tree and go home with you.

Strawberries it turns out, are my kryptonite. Five and a half pounds in what seemed like a humid mid-June rural New York eternity, but the prospect of taking these addictive perfectly red little fruits home at $2.99 per pound instead of the $5 per quart ($4 for the ‘ugly’ yet perfect tasting berries) normally asked for at the farmers market, is more than enough motivation to keep filling the box.

Jewel strawberries at Hand Melon Farm.
Jewel strawberries at Hand Melon Farm.

Most of these berries are of the Jewel variety, one of ten varieties offered at Hand Melon Farm, a 425 acre farm in Washington County, New York, just outside of Saratoga Springs. Next to the rows I picked was the sweetly named L’Amour variety.

There are of course rules to the ‘Pick Your Own’ which must be observed:

  1. If someone is already at a row or tree, move it along. It is spoken for.
  2. This is not the time to vent about your crappy day. This is the time to enjoy getting dirty and taking home cheap, perfectly ripe fruit.
  3. If the fruit doesn’t release easily when gently tugged, it is not ready to go home with you. Move along.
  4. Cell phones on silent. No one wants to hear about your doctor appointment while picking fruit.
  5. We all know it is hot out there. Keep your shirt on buddy, your pasty white chest is blinding everyone.

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