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Howard County Times
Howard County

Strawberries kick off ‘pick-your-own’ season at Larriland Farm in Woodbine

There were a lot of red-stained chins and fingers last week at Larriland Farm in Woodbine as people of all ages gathered in a field off Route 94 to pick their own strawberries.

“It’s just so satisfying,” said Kari Cozzolino, of Eldersburg, as she picked a large berry from Larriland’s fields June 8. “You can’t buy anything like this in a store.”

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TrudiAnn Stoltzfus, of Baltimore, picking berries with her two young sons, said it was nice to be outdoors with them, enjoying nature.

“It is a nice activity for children that is simple and they get to snack a little bit,” she said.

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Since the early 1970s, Larriland Farm has offered pick-your-own fruits and vegetables on its 420 acres spanning three properties in the Woodbine area. Strawberry season kicks everything off mid-May.

“We try to have something to pick every single day through the first week of November,” said Emily Moore, operations manager for Larriland. “Cherries, pumpkins, broccoli, kale, blackberries, peaches.”

Apples take up the most acreage and are the best sellers, Moore said.

“People just want to come out to the farm in the fall,” she said, “and there are so many different varieties of apples to extend the season.”

The family business started as a dairy farm that sold sod in the 1960s before switching to fruits and vegetables.

“Maryland has really great soil,” Moore said. “Land is a valuable thing. We try to impact as many natural practices as we can.”

Business has been steady, even during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, she said.

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“The first couple weeks of COVID were tough, but we continued,” Moore said.

The pandemic changed the way Larriland handles their pick-your-own system. Customers now pay for a container before entering the field. Once it is filled, they can leave but can’t decide to not purchase what they pick.

Before, people would pick too much fruit, see the price and try to give some back.

“Because of food safety reasons, if you pick something, I can’t take it [back] from you,” Moore said. “Now every person makes the [price] decision upfront and the produce is not handled as much.”

For $6, two customers can go out into the field to fill a small box. For $25, three people can pick and fill a medium-size box. For $45, four people can fill a large box.

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Dan Newcomer, of Westminster, filled two large containers with strawberries with help from his friend Kenny Wean, of Taylorsville. Newcomer planned to enjoy his berries on top of “a nice yellow cake” with whipped cream on top, he said. Though the best way to eat them, he said, is “raw, of course.”

Addie Sutter, of Baltimore, already had picked strawberries once this season and made jam before returning June 8 to pick with family members, including her 4-year-old niece, Gabby Portelli, of Columbia.

“It’s a summer tradition,” Sutter said. “I’m hoping to get cherries, too.”

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Kelly Portelli, Gabby’s mother, said the family enjoys picking, and eating, the berries.

“You can tell by our faces they taste delicious,” she said.

Larriland’s location near Interstate 70 is a plus, Moore said, as the farm attracts “people from all over the place. We really don’t do a lot of advertising. It’s word-of-mouth.”

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Lorrie Pente, of Elkridge, has been picking fresh fruit and vegetables at Larriland for several years.

“It is so much fresher and tastes so much better than in a store,” said Pente, who also comes with her own knife to pick broccoli when it is in season. “We bring a lunch and eat by the barn.”

Before heading out to the field to pick, check Larriland Farm’s website, http://www.pickyourown.com/ or call 410-442-2605, for the latest information about what is available.


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