“If you want to pick some of the best strawberries in years,” the Altamont Orchards Facebook page announced last Tuesday, “This is your week.” The post quickly garnered dozens of shares, and soon enough this reporter found himself carrying two molded-pulp quart baskets into a strawberry patch off Route 146, just east of the Altamont Fairgrounds.
Baskets are the preferred method (“NO PLASTIC BAGS,” the orchards’ website warns, “UNLESS YOU WANT STRAWBERRY BAG JAM”). The berries are abundant and easy to find, though it’s best to start picking as far as possible from the entrance to the field. This reporter, whose familiarity with the farm-to-table process is pretty much confined to the final stage, followed the example of two pickers and crouched mid-patch. This yielded some decent eavesdropping concerning one picker’s college-age daughter’s hapless study-abroad trip, but the strawberries were only of modest size. This was fine—we later confirmed they taste just as good as the big ones—but if you are primarily interested in strawberries that will impress your friends, venture farther afield.
“We had so much water we weren’t sure what was going to happen,” Lynn Gaidusek, a manager at Altamont Orchards, told The Alt last week over the phone, speaking of this year’s crop. “Last year our berries were a little small,” she allowed. But this year the forecasted skimpiness didn’t materialize. “This year they’re big,” Gaidusek said. “That’s great.”
Had we not waited until Friday, the picking might have been even sweeter. Jeannie Marshall, who recently moved from Georgia to Cobleskill in Schoharie County, told us that she visited the week of June 12 with her Methodist Church group. The dozen or so of them collected 80 pounds of strawberries within 45 minutes; they were “huge,” she said, holding up her hands to frame a strawberry the size of a plumb, and “cheaper and better than the stores.”
This reporter left with three pounds of strawberries (about $7), and, 25 minutes later, arrived at The Alt’s Schenectady office having consumed half the haul. “Our doctors would prefer we eat berries to bananas,” Marshall had told The Alt, referencing her partner’s recent heart troubles. But this reporter’s bingeing likely went beyond any physician-approved limits.
691-699 New York 146
Altamont, NY 12009
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