I went out to J & M Strawberry fields (part of J&M Farm 541-747-0065) to u-pick midweek. They are located out Seavey Loop near Mt. Pisgah Arboretum and Buford Park along the Coast Fork of the Willamette River.
I have driven by this farm many times on my way to the Arboretum to hike or swim. This is the first time I have stopped to pick their berries. I believe they grow and process peppermint for oil and alfalfa as well.
I believe this is the processing shed for the pepper mint oil (on the L). Beautiful field of alfalfa being mowed for bailing.
They have a pleasant little sales and field processing area to the north of the beds. Every thing was on wheels or skids so they could be moved along as the picking progressed through the field. There was a beautiful cottonwood towering over the beds to the east toward the river. I love these trees and their “snow” of seeds with cottony tufts.
The strawberry beds are raised a good 6-8 inches high and the paths between are sown to Fescue. This makes for very comfortable picking as the plants are higher and the grass pads the knees when kneeling. The variety was Shuksan and they were doing their 3rd pass through the field. Even so, I had no problem picking 3 buckets (about 18lbs.) in no time. The folks tending the sales area were very pleasant and helpful. They use a very efficient colored flag system for managing the beds. I really appreciate this technique as it assures good picking for all and higher yields for the farmer. So, be sure to follow your farmer’s instructions so that everyone gets good picking.
I put most of these berries in the freezer and made shortcake for dessert that evening. I went back on the weekend with my youngest son Aodan and my wife Patricia. Even though the plants were on their last legs, they still had quite a few good berries left on them. The folks at the farm dropped the price $1 a bucket and we went away with 3 buckets and 1/2 a flat already picked. I highly recommend this u-pick farm.
I juiced most of these berries.No need to hull! Just rinse and juice.
One full basket yielded 5 quarts of super dark thick luscious juice. The juice is so thick that it takes thinning up to 50/50 with water or seltzer. We had strawberry juice with seltzer for dinner. The kids love it.
During juicing I added about 2 cups of sugar in two layers of berries (1 cup each) to the fruit in the basket. This resulted in a relatively sweet juice. I might use less next time. Processing time was about 35-40 minutes. Short and sweet.
That’s it for now. Next will be cherries no doubt.
Take Care ’til next time.