Every summer, Howland resident Edna Wilfong treks across the Mahoning Valley in search of just the right batch of strawberries to make her beloved freezer jam.
"My grandkids just love it," Wilfong said on Saturday.
Kayla Easton, 3, and her mother, Wendy, 30, of Williamsfield, pick strawberries Saturday morning at Ridgeview Farm in Middlefield.
Tribune Chronicle / Ashley Newman
This year, that jam will feature ripe berries from Ridgeview Farm in Middlefield, as Wilfong and her husband, Cecil, each made their way through the rows of leafy strawberry plants, picking their favorites.
"It's a lot of fun now, but my back won't be too much fun tomorrow," Wilfong chuckled.
Ridgeview began its annual "Pick Your Own" harvest on Friday, giving people access to comb through its 101-acre farm devoted to growing strawberries.
If you go
Local farms that grow and sell strawberries:
Haus Orchard and Cider Mill: 6742 W. Calla Road, Canfield
White House Fruit Farm: 9249 state Route 62, Canfield
Matwich Berry Farm: 6648 Kale Adams Road, Leavittsburg
The farm, which has been in operation for 17 years, is seeing a huge amount of traffic so far this season.
"We're usually busy, don't get me wrong," owner Sharon Groves said. "But this year seems over the top."
According to Groves, initial fears that the season wouldn't have enough rain were quickly replaced by the thought that maybe they were getting a little too much.
"When strawberry season started, our pond was empty," Groves said. "We were praying for rain. Our pond is totally full. Our prayers came true.
"Now, we're praying that it stops raining," she laughed.
Fellow owner and husband, Steve Groves, explained this is likely to be a long strawberry season.
"We'll have strawberries through July 4th because of the rain," Groves said. "Some years we're done by then, but our late variety really hasn't even started yet. We'll probably start on them toward the end of next week."
Ridgeview's various varieties of strawberry include early-season Wendy, mid-season All Stars and late-season Valley Sunset.
Bazetta resident Ron Rinaldi said he heard good things about this year's crop, so he wanted to see for himself.
"All the talk leading up to it was because of the rain and the weather, it really lended to the hype that this would be a good harvest," Rinaldi said, as he plucked a berry off its branch. "It has lived up to that."
Steve and Sharon Groves' five children work on the farm, along with about 35 Amish pickers, who the family pays to fill baskets for those customers not looking to harvest their own.
Pricing on this year's batch of strawberries range from $3 a quart if a customer picks their own to $4.25 a quart for the pre-picked variety.
The couple expects this week to see the most strawberries and the largest amount of traffic.
"It's a little later this year," Groves said. People aren't accustomed to it. For the next two full weeks, we'll have 'Pick Your Own,' weather permitting.
"We always tell people to call ahead of time before they come out, because we can't control the weather."
The "Pick Your Own" option will be available from 8 a.m. to noon Monday through Saturday. Pre-picked strawberries are available in the farm's onsite market from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.