It's strawberry season at Ostanek's Strawberry Farm in Trenary. This farm has been producing berries since 1959.
This year, there was plenty of rain during the beginning of the season, but not enough heat. As a result, the strawberry plants didn't grow as tall as they normally would, which means that the berries are in plain sight. This is great news for strawberry pickers.
The owners are hoping for more sunshine to help ripen the berries. Strawberries that soak up a lot of sunshine will have firmer skin, making it easier to withstand outdoor conditions and hold up for customers.
Every year, Ostanek's welcomes the public to come in and pick their own berries.
"It's mayhem," said Pete Maki, owner of Ostanek's Strawberry Farm. "A lot of people come and it's like a big bazaar or something, like a big crazy rummage sale or a sidewalk sale. Everybody thinks they're not going to get any, so they're all in a frenzy and they grab other people's berries and they're not their own. They think they're their own. They're all mixed up; they don't listen to me or anything I say. All they have on their minds is 'strawberries.' Their eyes are glazed over."
As the only strawberry farm in the central U.P., they get pickers from Marquette, Alger, and Delta counties. When comparing these freshly picked strawberries to the store-bought ones, here's what one berry picker had to say:
"[The store-bought strawberries] are green inside. But, these are red, juicy, and beautiful. They're cheaper, too, $1.50 a quart, and you can pile them as high as you want," said Kathy Soltwisch, a berry picker. "And today's the first day of picking, so there seems to be hundreds and hundreds of people here today. It's an exciting day."
Depending on the weather, the berry picking at Ostenek's usually lasts three weeks.