Large, juicy, red strawberries fill Jackson Lore's fields at Lore’s Strawberry Farm in Middle Clyde River. It hasn’t always been this productive a yield, he says - especially in the past few years.
“Five years ago, we had an aphid virus that built up and built up all over Nova Scotia,” he said.
The virus posed a great risk to the $17-million a year industry, but Lore said farmers have finally gotten control back over their crops.
“The mild winter was good,” he said, helping with the excellent year for crops.
Lore’s farms offer an experience for people who want to pick their own berries. Drive up the dirt road and bring the whole family for a taste of what summer is all about.
“We are seeing a lot of younger people come,” he said.
And Lore says the season is far from over. The crops have a good two weeks left for ripe picking. He will move to a u-pick of blueberries come August.
But don't worry - this isn't the last you'll see of Lore's berries this year. He's been working on bringing locally-produced, fresh, organic strawberries all the way into the fall.
To do that, he has set up a greenhouse with a hydroponic watering system. He's ordered hives of bumblebees, also called flying doctors, to tend to his crop and cross-pollinate the plants.
“It’s brand new,” he said. “They come in little hives and they go and collect the biological material to help control fruit rot and pests."
Great community response
While Lore is thinking of his yield of crops from all angles, the community is eating up the plump strawberries with delight.
Nancy Thomas is ready to celebrate another strawberry season as she has since she was a little girl.
In fact, the strawberry social the family holds each year has been an ongoing tradition for nearly a century.
“When my mother, Phyllis Seaboyer, was a child, her parents would eat nothing but a strawberry shortcake for supper,” said Thomas.
Year after year, the tradition continued as she grew up and formed her own family.
The shortcakes are not just any ordinary shortcake - they measure 15-inches around and eight inches high. They collect a required eight quarts of strawberries and two large whipped cream containers for the giant biscuits.
When Seaboyer passed away, her tradition did not.
Her granddaughter, Jennifer Thomas, has picked up the sweet succession to share with her family and her mother, Nancy Thomas.
“It’s something our family has always done,” said Thomas.