Back in October, Frank Williams and Kathy Deloe planted strawberry seeds in neat rows at the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens.
After growing through the winter, flowering in February, and plumping up over the last month, those strawberries are ripe and ready to pick, and CGBG is selling them to the public.
The yearly strawberry and blackberry picking is a tradition for the CGBG groundskeepers. They’ve been doing it for the last 15 years. Strawberry season officially opened this month, but Deloe said the peak season is still to come.
“April is usually the peak pickin’ time,” Deloe said.
The fields are open for public pickers from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday until May 19, according to the CGBG Facebook page. Strawberries are $2.50 per pound.
Melissa Widerquist and her daughters Brielle, 4, and Ella, 2, decided to stop by the garden Wednesday morning.
As the trio crossed the bridge from the strawberry field, the girls peeked through the railing at the turtles and ducks resting on the bankside.
“Who likes strawberries more?” Widerquist asked her daughters.
Brielle’s hand shot up as she smiled at her mother. Widerquist said she wanted to get the girls out of the house for the day, and thought strawberry picking would be a good option.
“It’s just something better than the iPad,” Widerquist said.
Out in the fields, a couple of old friends were catching up. Claire Bentley was enjoying her spring break from Georgia College spending time with her friend Ireri Medrano. The two hadn’t seen each other in a while, and Claire saw the botanical garden’s event on Facebook.
Their buckets were about half full of strawberries.
“We’ve been real picky,” Bentley said, laughing at her unintentional pun.
They said they were having fun, but were being careful not to bite off more than they could chew.
“I’ve picked quite a few,” Medrano said. “I think I’m going to have to stop soon because I’m broke.”
Across the field, Allison Crapse and Sandy McDonald piled their buckets high. Crapse came to pick strawberries with her family not long ago, and was back for seconds with her best friend.
“We’ve been friends for 35 years,” McDonald said. “Best friends for 35 years, and we’ve never had an argument.”
The two were born 15 days apart and have been inseparable for decades.
“We know what each other are thinking all the time,” McDonald said.
It was Crapse’s second time picking strawberries in her life, and she seemed to have a knack for it.
“This bucket is about five pounds if I were to guess,” Crapse said. “We left with 10 pounds the other day.”