Let it be known: Strawberry season has arrived.
One of the area’s largest strawberry operations, Cottle Strawberry Farm in Lower Richland, is officially open for picking. They also have opened their annual roadside stands around Richland County.
Workers last week were busy pulling back tarps that protected 18 acres of farm plants from a midweek frost warning, said Cottle’s Jennifer Jordan, adding that the plants “are loaded with berries.”
Schools and groups are welcome to the farm, where they will get to know how strawberries are grown and harvested and used fresh in recipes.
Cottle Strawberry Farm: 2533 Trotter Road, Lower Richland. Open 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-7 p.m. Sunday. Roadside stand locations: 5143 Forest Drive, 7505 Garners Ferry Road, 150 Bower Parkway, U.S. 378 near the Riverbanks Zoo entrance, and Sandhill Recycling Center at 900 Clemson Road, Northeast Richland.
In neighboring Lexington County, Mike Keisler runs the James R Sease Farm you-pick strawberry fields. The farm has 11 acres of ripe berries.
James R Sease Farm: 3807 Augusta Highway, Gilbert. Open 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Saturday.
Details: (803) 359-3276
Joe Watson, of Watsonia Farms in Monetta, has planted 6 acres of strawberries. They don’t do you-pick, mainly because “we aren’t located in a highly visible spot, like some others,” said Watson. But do look for them at 14 Carrot Whole Foods in Lexington and used on the menu at The Oak Table, Bourbon, Motor Supply Co. Bistro and The War Mouth.
“We’re running a bit behind, trying to keep up with orders, but plan to be at Soda City Market in Columbia, and the Irmo Farmers Market.”
Wastonia Farms: Retail locations at Peaches N Such I, 3771 Hwy 23, Monetta. Open 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday; Peaches N Such II, I-20 at Exit 44 (2120 Pond Branch Road), Gilbert, Open June 1-Sept. 15, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
Paul and Erika McCurley are transplants from Oklahoma. They own and operate McCurley Farms in North. “The farm has 27 acres of vegetables, and 1 acre of strawberries,” says Paul.
“We have two types of berries: the Camarosa, which has a longer shelf life, and the super sweet and juicy Chandler. You eat enough of those, really ripe in the field, and you get covered in strawberry juice.”
McCurley Farms: 8840 North Road, North. Open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday and Monday, Tuesday and Thursday by appointment.