Archives for May 2016

It’s Strawberry Time. Get Picking!

Rachel Klingler, sister of The Berry Patch owner, Steven Klingler, gets us started.

Gretchen Klingler, sister of The Berry Patch owner, Steven Klingler, gets us started.

Local strawberry picking is upon us. Beware, the season is brief. About three weeks.

So, Champaign Uncorked! visited two local strawberry patches on Memorial Day to help blaze your trail to the sweet freshness that awaits. (By the way, I have a bowl of strawberries in front of me as I write this. Soon to be just a bowl. Good news: Plenty more in the kitchen.)

First Stop: The Berry Patch, LLC 

Location: 2451 St. Rt. 245 W., West Liberty

Hours: Mon-Sat, 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday, 1-5 p.m. (season ends about June 18)

Product: Pre-picked and U-pick strawberries by gallon bucket or quart

Contact: 937-441-0248; TheBerryPatchLLC@live.com; TheBerryPatchOhio.com; Facebook

The Berry Patch, LLC, West Liberty, Ohio

Steven Klingler in front of The Berry Patch, the strawberry business he started four years ago.

The Story: Steven Klingler, a 2014 Urbana University accounting graduate, started The Berry Patch, LLC four years ago. It’s sort of an offshoot of a berry farm of another variety—a raspberry farm. Specifically, the Champaign Berry Farm of Mike and Cathy Pullins, just outside Mutual. Steven worked seven summers for the Pullinses, from seventh grade through freshman year of college.

By his sixth season with Champaign Berry Farm, Steven knew he wanted to go into the berry business himself. The Pullinses recommended strawberries. Raspberries take two to three years to fruit after planting. Strawberries, just 12 months. Steven has 23,000 plants in fruit. With the help of a crew of 20 he planted 24,000 new plants this spring—for even more bountiful picking next year.

Steven also has received encouragement and support from his family and Jason Wish of Wishwell Farms of Bellefontaine. His father, Scott Klingler, loaned him money for equipment and is expecting Steven to get back to work, at the end of strawberry season, to support his business, Countryside Heating & Cooling. (We have, indeed, entered the cooling season also.)

Strawberries at Folck Family Farm

Cindy and Bob Folck of Folck Family Farm.

Second Stop: Folck Family Farm

Location: 6842 St. Rt. 54, Mechanicsburg

Hours: Call the farm at 937-869-2240 for hours and updates

Product: Strawberries (pre-picked and U-pick) in season now through June 21. Other produce: peas, red raspberries (to be ready mid-June), blackberries, Vidalia onions, tomatoes and sweet peppers. Also honey, jams, as well as pork products from pasture-raised purebred Chester White pigs. (The Folcks had the 2015 Champion Chester White Gilt at the Ohio State Fair Junior Show.)

Contact: 937-869-2240; folckfamilyfarm.net

The Story: Bob and Cindy Folck have operated their family farm for about 15 years. Bob describes himself as “a stay-at-home farmer” since a job layoff. He also breeds and sells show pigs. Cindy is program manager of The Ohio State University Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Program.  And their daughter, Amanda, studies sports turf at Ohio State. Bob said their produce business began with pumpkins, “and one thing led to another.” They’ve become one of Ohio’s largest grower of peas, picking and shelling about two acres a year.

How Sweet It Is….

Locally grown strawberries, Chammpaign County, Ohio

Some of our day’s delicious bounty.

As I wrap up this post, my wife, Kay, just set down in front of me a slice of toast spread with strawberry jam she made from some of today’s pickings. Ummm … now, what was I writing about?

Anyway, get out and discover for yourself the locally grown goodness that is all around us in and around Champaign County. We’ll be sharing more finds as the growing season progresses.

And please share: What are your favorite locally grown and produced foods?