Here at Howe Family Farms we have been growing strawberries for five generations. We have always believed that the trick to growing a perfect strawberry starts with variety. Over the years we have grown countless varieties; some that grow vigorously, some that bear an unbelievable amount of fruit, some that can store for long durations, but the most important characteristic is flavour. We only grow the varieties that we love to eat.
Choosing a flavourful variety isn’t the only trick to growing a perfect strawberry. Care must be taken from planting to harvest.
Irrigation during frosty nights and dry weather conditions are extremely important practices on our farm. We are lucky to farm in an area of South Western Ontario that has an abundant freshwater supply.
Possibly the most important part of growing strawberries is the harvest. Strawberries do not have a very long shelf life. Tricks that we have picked up over the years to prolong the shelf life of our strawberries include an extremely stringent grading policy – the saying ‘one bad apple spoils the bunch’ holds true to strawberries as well. Not only will the customer who purchases a quart with a spoiled strawberry in it be discouraged from eating more, but the spoiled fruit can also increase the rate in which the rest of the quart spoils. Because of this our excellent picking crew is monitored by what we call ‘patch bosses’ who ensure only the best berries are picked. We also hire a team of well-trained strawberry ‘graders’ who give a second inspection over each quart, filling quarts that are missing berries, and removing berries that do not meet our grade.
Our strict check, check, and re-check policy is a Howe family tradition. We have always believed that quality must be at the forefront of our business.
A second trick to prolonging our strawberries shelf life is to cool our strawberries to 36 degrees Fahrenheit immediately after harvest. The quicker we can cool a strawberry, the longer the strawberry lasts.