Sweet Relief and Strawberries For All


If you're driving through a farming area and you feel an unexpected breeze, don't panic -- it's just what happens when every one of the region's berry farmers breathe a sigh of relief at the same time.

Last month, when record cold spells kept local strawberries green on the vine, Janet Stocker of Snohomish's Stocker Farms told Seattle Weekly that she worried she might lose her entire June crop and the profits that usually come with it.

That was before the weather turned and the Northwest experienced nearly two weeks of straight sunshine. Now the berries are ripe and ready for picking, and Stocker's fiscal year is saved.

"We're so happy," she said. "Things are looking good, and the berries are coming off great."

At Arlington's Biringer Farms, proof of the turnaround can be seen firsthand -- and touched and purchased by the pound. The farm is open for U-pick until the end of the season, so anyone with a craving for fresh berries can pick to their heart's content and pay on the way out.

"The berries are big and just beautiful," they say. "Once you get in there you won't be able to stop."

For some farms, the season will be a few weeks shorter than usual, thanks in part to recent high temperatures (go figure), but in other cases, all is as it usually is, just two weeks later.

"Usually we have raspberries to sell on the Fourth of July," says Stocker, "but they're a bit behind, too, so we'll just have strawberries instead."

It's almost enough to make you believe in happy endings -- and they all lived happily ever after with red juice on their chins. Shortcake, anyone?

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