The Strawberries are Coming!

With the cool, wet spring we’ve had, it’s hard to believe June is already half over. In another week or two the strawberries will ripen, and I can’t wait to pick a flat or two at Bauer Berry Farm in Champlin.

As with most locally grown food, you could probably find cheaper prices at Costco or other big box stores. But something feels right about paying a little more money and spending a little more time to pick my strawberries right out of Bauer’s fields. They are definitely better quality than the jumbo, flavorless berries that look better than they taste. That’s just one of many reasons, though.

Another reason is personal. I owe a bit of gratitude to Bill and Nancy for giving me my first job back in the early 80s. I learned a good work ethic and the value of money working on their farm. Believe me, every penny counted at $1.68/hour, but then again, back then we didn’t have ridiculous expenses for high tech devices (you could get a cassette player for around $10) or cell phone bills. Unlike so many kids today, if I wanted those nonessential gadgets and gizmos, I had to pay for them myself.

In business since 1977, Bauers continue to employ quite a few young people every summer, teaching them basic work skills. Last year I watched Nancy patiently explain to a high school girl how to count money and make change. I distinctly remember learning that lesson in elementary school math, which makes me wonder if that girl wasn’t paying attention in class or if our education system has removed some of these basic real-world skills from the curriculum.

I feel good about investing in my community when I support local farmers like Bauers. But at the end of the day, the biggest draw is their delicious and wholesome strawberries. Some years yield better crops than others, and that’s the nature of nature. Although the berry farm doesn’t have an organic certification, from everything I’ve ever seen and heard, it’s run following organic principles. I’ve never seen any pesticides or herbicides used on the berries. The rows are filled with straw to keep the weeds down, and when I worked there we used a hoe and our hands to remove weeds. I can’t tell you how many clean and fresh berries I ate straight from the plant, one of my favorite perks of the job.

When you visit the farm you’ll notice a lot of signs that ask you to drive slowly. This is a big deal to Bill – it keeps the dust down and keeps the farm safe. Besides that, pick-your-own is all about the experience, and you get a lot better experience when you slow down, relax and connect with nature. Happy picking, and more importantly, happy eating!

Check out to find out when the berries will be ready for picking; in 2013, they are projecting the third week in June for strawberries. They also have blueberries and sweet corn.

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