Strawberry season is officially underway here on Delmarva and we couldn’t wait to get to our favorite farm for some U-Pick strawberries! We stopped by Magee Farms this week to load up on strawberries, taking some time to learn more about the family-owned and operated business that’s been providing Maryland and Delaware with fresh, local produce since 1865.
Charlotte Magee was kind enough to give us a tour of the Selbyville farm, which is just one of three Magee Farm locations on Delmarva (the other two are located in Lewes and on 589 in Ocean Pines). “My husband is the fifth generation Magee to work these farms,” explained Charlotte as she drove us back to the strawberry fields. We pulled up to a lush plot of land teeming with newly ripened strawberries. Charlotte encouraged us to grab a fresh bite off the vine…it doesn’t get much fresher than straight-off-the-vine. What’s more, the berries were as sweet as candy and ruby red in color, which is a far cry from what we are used to seeing on the shelves of the grocery store all winter long. Charlotte gave us a rundown on the strawberry season, explaining that new plants go into the ground in a new location each fall in an effort to keep the soil healthy and to avoid diseases within the crops. Over the winter, the plants are covered just before the first freeze and left covered and protected until the cold weather breaks. This year, the season started on May 16th, but that can vary depending on the winter and spring temperatures. “Every year is so different…it really depends on the sun and the temperatures,” explained Charlotte. Another fun fact: bees are brought in each year to pollinate the plants!
Magee Farms started offering u-pick strawberries 25 years ago and has grown over the years into the largest strawberry grower in the state of Delaware. The Magee Farms origins date back to 1865 however, when they started with just a small farm stand operation. Five generations later, the Magee family is still holding strong, with a bustling business, three locations, and wholesale and local produce that can be found at their farm stands, local farmers markets, and even at your grocery store.
The u-pick strawberry season lasts through June, bringing hundreds of families to the farms in that time for family strawberry picking. “I love seeing the same people came back every year,” said Charlotte, adding that just last weekend they had one family visit with four generations of women who had made Magee Farms part of their annual family tradition.
The farm is also host to a number of events, with specials each weekend for the kids to enjoy. For example, last weekend families were treated to free strawberry ice cream. “We try to do as many locally-minded events as we can,” explained Charlotte, noting a few upcoming festivals in the works. The farm also strives to accumulate as little waste as possible, donating strawberries that aren’t been picked to the local food banks.
In addition to strawberries, Magee Farms also grows and sells sweet corn, watermelons, pumpkins (along with u-pick pumpkins in the fall), squash, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, potatoes, plants and herbs. Charlotte was quick to note that pumpkin season was her favorite season at the farm, as families head out to the fields with the little ones in tow to pick out pumpkins for Halloween. This year, plans are already underway to provide a fun array of activities for kids during pumpkin picking season. The family also hopes to operate a CSA out of the farm one day, with more and more requests for a CSA popping up each year.
In the meantime, the Magees are plowing their way (pun intended) through the 2015 season with a crop of strawberries ripe for the picking and a busy season of fresh, local produce to follow.
Interested in picking your own berries? Strawberry picking at Magee Farms is available at all three locations from 8am until 6pm every day.