Posts Tagged ‘Dentz Orchard and Berry Farm’


Raspberry season follows hard on the heels of strawberry season. When I visited Dentz Orchard and Berry Farm to pick strawberries, the raspberry season was just beginning. Once I had picked a basket of strawberries, I moved to the raspberry fields. Raspberries grow in a very different manner from strawberries. While strawberries are produced on low-growing plants, close to the ground, raspberries are produced on tall canes.


At pick-your-own farms, the canes are nicely maintained in long rows, with the berries produced well above the ground. You know a raspberry is ready to eat when the gentlest touch releases it from its stem. If you have to tug, the berry isn’t ready to eat. Raspberry plants are vigorous growers and spread quickly by underground shoots that produce new suckers. When the kids were young, there were a few patches of wild raspberries around the property. The wild fruit is generally smaller than cultivated berries. Black raspberries, or Black Caps, were a favorite with the kids.


Strawberries remind me of sunny early-July days, my kids newly out of school on vacation, the whole summer stretching out luxuriously ahead of us. Raspberries take me back to an earlier time, my own childhood. Raspberries grew all along the back fence of my grandparents’ yard. Whenever we visited my grandparents in raspberry season, my sister and I were dispatched to the backyard to pick raspberries. I hated picking raspberries! The canes were prickly and unruly and it seemed to take forever to fill a basket with the small berries. However, I loved eating raspberries! My grandmother used to make raspberry jam and it is still my favorite flavour of jam, no doubt due to sentimental reasons. Raspberry jam in winter is like the sunshine of long-ago summers captured in a jar.

My grandparents

My grandparents

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The beginning of strawberry season coincides with the end of the school year and the beginning of summer vacations. For many years, one of the first things we did when the kids were home on vacation was go strawberry picking. When I think of strawberries, I think of those sunny, hot days. You could kneel down with your basket in the straw between the rows of plants and feel the sun warming your very soul. The best strawberries are the ones plucked, still sun-warmed, out in the field.


My kids have all grown up and gone their separate ways, and it has been a cool, rainy summer. Still, I wanted to fit in at least one trip to pick strawberries. I visited Dentz Orchard and Berry Farm just as the strawberry season was giving way to raspberry picking. The girl who showed me to the field was surprised that I still wanted strawberries, and indeed, I had the field to myself. I thought I might have to hunt for good berries, but such was not the case. There were still lots of ripe strawberries waiting to be picked and I wondered what would happen to them all. Would they be harvested by commercial pickers? In addition to offering pick-your-own, Dentz also sells to commercial markets.

Strawberries are available in supermarkets here pretty much year round, imported from California during the winter months. The berries do have considerable appeal in the dark days of winter, but I find they are disappointing. There’s just not that same sunny ambiance that comes with picking your own. Since I read Eric Schlosser’s discussion of the exploitation of migrant workers in his book Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market, I have passed up winter strawberries. I can’t say I miss them. They’re more of a treat when you buy them locally, in season. I don’t mean to suggest Canada doesn’t exploit Mexican workers too. Most large operations employ such workers to pick fruit, though I know little of their situation. I expect working in Canada is a double-edged sword, the need to make a living balanced against the negatives of a disrupted family life.


The best way to enjoy strawberries is just to wash them and eat them fresh, perhaps with a little milk or cream. Second choice, if you can resist eating them long enough, is to bake a strawberry pie. Here’s my favorite Strawberry Pie recipe:

Prepare 1 single pie crust. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Filling: Wash and cut up 4 cups of strawberries. Mix with 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of flour, and 1 tablespoon of corn starch. Place in pie shell.
Topping: Combine 3/4 cup flour and 3/4 cup sugar and a pinch of nutmeg. Cut in 3/8 cup of butter until mixture is crumbly. Spread over top of filling.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees and continue baking for another 40 minutes.
Allow to cool before cutting. Delicious!


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