Chung Chow photo
Bill Zylmans sits in the farm office in his overalls and gum boots.
It’s been a wet spring.
Sandra Zylmans, his wife, sits at the desk, getting quotes on portable toilets for the fields.
Farmers work all the time, rarely stopping, even for an interview. After such a long, soggy spring, it’s finally strawberry season.
“It was such a long cool wet winter and spring so the seasons’s going to be a little shorter so the size of the berry is going to a bit smaller but it still has the flavour, texture and juice content,” says Bill.
Berries picked green, for durability in shipping, while terribly firm, have less flavour and scent. Berries picked at the peak of ripeness, are just the opposite.
Bill says when people get to their No. 8 Road and Westminster Highway farm to buy strawberries “what they notice first is the smell of the berries.”
The great smell comes from berries picked ripe and sold fresh.
“Our heritage is that we only sell what we grow, we only sell our own produce. My mother started that and we carry on that tradition,” says Bill.
When planting the strawberries to harvest the next year, Bill says he always chooses the “varieties that have the most flavour and the most juice content.”
This year, they are growing four varieties that each ripen at a different time, Honey-eye, Puge Reliance, Totem, and Ranier.
Even though the strawberries will be ripening over the season, the season will be very short this year, warns the Zylmans family.
If you desire fresh, flavourful strawberries, better buy them soon, before they’re gone until next year.