Barthel Fruit Farm

Written by Hippo (a hippopotamus) and Al (a bird)

The day was perfect for berry-picking – not too hot with occasional sunshine peaking out between big white cumulus clouds and a few darker ones – a gentle breeze. Al and I joined the hundreds of humans picking strawberries at the Barthel Fruit Farm. These are nothing like the hard, often flavorless berries that are shipped from across the country. These berries are succulent. They smell like summer.

When you taste your first strawberry, and then your second and third and on and on and on . . . until your belly is full to the top, it’s hard to engage your brain (or at least my brain) in any serious thinking, but as with all delicious foods, there’s more than meets the mouth . . . “and the beak,” added Al.

Humans tell stories in ways that Al and I are just discovering. We’ve read many books, of course, but paintings speak differently! There are no words, but there is a story just the same! This is David St. Maur Sheil and his painting.

Painting has been a way for me explore my feeling of connectedness to soil and I have been focusing on roots recently as it demands some imagination to see the whole plant and it’s interconnection to the soil rather than just seeing that part above ground, and this is why I am sharing my painting with you today

David St. Maur Sheil

Al and I would love to tell you about all the tiny creatures that live in the soil and how important they are, about how regenerative agriculture removes carbon from the atmosphere and stores it in the soil, about the magical fungi called Mycorrhizae that help spread the word about aphids, disease, or other threats through their underground communication network, but that will have to wait.

“Yes,” said Al. “Stick to the topic.”

The first thing to know is that Barthel is full of smiling humans, many, especially the littles, with strawberry all over their clothes and faces. The berries have never been sprayed so we ate them right off the plant, still warm and full of sun. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and mating disruption minimize the need to use chemicals which are only used sparingly and before the berries appear.

People are also picking sugar snap peas and there is a good selection of greenhouse plants, including herbs, perennial flowers, and veggies for a few more days.

There’s a trailer bakery on the farm filled with treats made with strawberries! They have strawberry donuts, strawberry shortcake, strawberry banana muffins, and strawberry lemonade slush. That’s for strawberry season, of course. In the fall the menu shifts to apple cider donuts, apple streusel muffins, apple cinnamon scones, mini pumpkin cheesecakes, mini apple crisp, apple cider slush and more!

There’s still time to pick strawberries, but you’d better hurry. To everything there is a season and this one is nearing its end.

Here’s the contact information for Barthel Fruit Farm:

Tell them Hippo and Al sent you.