Berry Pickin’ We Will Go

 On a recent Sunday afternoon, after a few dreary cloudy and rainy days, I trekked over to Surry at the last minute to pick some fresh strawberries at College Run Farms. You can check out their website at http://www.collegerunfarms.com/. The website is updated daily with conditions for picking. There’s not much time left for the 2018 strawberry season, and all of the rain has certainly caused some havoc. Be sure to take a look at the website if you plan to go.

Getting out of the house was just as paramount to actually picking berries. From Gloucester, I get to enjoy a short drive on the Colonial Parkway before reaching the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry to cross the James River to Surry. For more information about the ferry schedule, check out the VDOT website at http://www.virginiadot.org/travel/ferry-jamestown.asp. The ride across the James lasts about 20 minutes before docking . Here are some photos from my ride.  I always find the ferry ride an adventure by itself. Standing along the railing while the wind blows in my face and taking in the views is both peaceful and therapeutic for me. On the ride back to Jamestown, a tug pushing a huge bar passed by; unfortunately, I didn’t get over to that side to snap a photo.

Once you drive off from the ferry docks, the berry farm is about a 5 minute ride. The picking forecast for the day was not overly optimistic given the rain earlier that morning. However, even though some of the fields were wet, I was pleasantly surprised to find some dry rows and plump juicy berries that had somehow avoided getting soft and soggy from the rains. I did arrive prepared after reading the website with my rain wellies. In fact, I chose to pick on the wet rows that had less people so my boots certainly came in handy.  All in all, I was in the fields about 40 minutes total until my basket was overflowing with strawberries. Many were sandy from the rains so it wasn’t hard to resist eating a few while picking on this particular trip. In fact, I didn’t eat the first one until later that evening when I washed off a few to add to a dinner salad.  The entire basket of strawberries cost $9.50 to pick and boy was it fun other than when I was bit by a nasty May fly. That little bugger was persistent and sure enough got me on my hand. I didn’t let it get in the way of filling my basket and enjoying a nice waffle cone of homemade strawberry ice cream at the end.

So the rains held off until after I got back home in the early evening. Whew! The one thing I didn’t take was an umbrella or rain slicker. What a great way to spend a few hours on a Sunday afternoon. I wish I would have headed out earlier to enjoy a tasty lunch at the Virginia Diner in Wakefield which is about a 30 minute drive from the berry farm. You can check out their hours of operation and menu at http://www.vadinerrestaurant.com/default.aspx. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve eaten there, and I remember it well. Next trip over, I also want to make a pit stop by Smith’s Fort Plantation which you pass along the way from the ferry to College Run Farms. I’ve visited many of the local plantations during my childhood and adult years, but this one has eluded me. Take a peek here https://www.preservationvirginia.com/visit/historic-properties/smiths-fort-plantation.

Do you have farms in your local area where you can pick in season crops? If so, I encourage you to get out and take advantage. It will be a fun day for sure. Now, what became of all of the strawberries I picked? I’ll save that for my next post.

Another fun Seafood Festival for the books

Got seafood? Well,  I certainly got my belly full at the 70th Abingdon Ruritan Club Seafood Festival. The twice a year local event in Bena is always a crowd pleaser, and this one surely did not disappoint. On a side note, I like to refer to Bena as the “Gateway to Guinea!” I usually get a few laughs from some of the locals when I say that.

I have volunteered at the Virginia Country Real Estate beer booth for the last few years’ festivals and didn’t make it out of the booth. This spring, however, Jeff and I purchased tickets and enjoyed the afternoon and evening as festival goers. It’s one of those days when I make sure to eat very little if anything before the gates open so I can enjoy all of the deliciousness offered. I have my favorites, and they include the fried oysters, fried scallops, steamed shrimp and the coveted clam chowder. One can also find steamed oysters, oysters on the half shell, steamed crabs, clam fritters, fried fish, hush puppies, bbq, cake and ice cream. The beer and alcohol start to flow after the singing of the national anthem at 3:00 pm and continues until the last pour at 7:30 p.m. While I’m not a beer drinker, I do enjoy the Guinea Gotchas mixed drinks, and the jello shots were also a nice addition this spring. It’s always fun to see friends from childhood and new ones too while walking around the grounds.

The $50 ticket price covers all of your food and drinks, and of course, the Ruritan Club is a service organization that does a lot of good work in our community. Bottom line: it is a good bang for your buck if you like seafood. Mark your calendars as the festival is held on the third Wednesday in October and May and attracts people from both near and far, but you will need to secure your ticket prior to the event. The gate opens at 2:00 p.m. and the festival runs from 3:00 – 8:00 p.m. Will I run into you at the October festival?