Strawberry season is almost upon us, but Sylvania's Creque family still does not know if there will be helping hands to bring in the harvest.
"I honestly don’t know what we'll be doing," admits Tom Creque, of Creque's Greenhouse. "Until I see the labor, I don't know what this season is going to bring."
Creque explains that the labor shortage has affected farms across the board, and until berry-picking day arrives, he has no idea how many laborers will be showing up.
"I don't know if I’ll be mostly 'You-pick' this year, or if I can get a crew then it will be all already-picked," explains the third generation berry farmer. "I may only have enough for my own produce stand, and not be able to do any wholesale."
Creque's does usually supply their berries to a Sylvania grocery store, but because of the labor situation that may not happen this year.
“I am looking at the berries being ready to pick in about seven to ten days from now, making it the second week in June" Creque shares. "We also need to see what the weather does, if it stays cooler, or if it gets hotter then they will be ready a little bit sooner."
Weather-wise, Creque said that March sped things up, and then April slowed things down, so now the ready-to-harvest time is just about average and it's only the labor-factor that has thrown a wrench in the works.
"I'm scraping the weeds to find help," Creque says. "I may get some local kids to help me, but it is just slow producing that way."
The Creque farm had already scaled down to one acre of strawberries, from two or three in previous years, and they are also down to one variety, “Jewel.”
Sylvanians are advised to keep an eye on the Creque Facebook page for strawberry announcements, and scoot on over as soon as harvest time hits.
Mrs. Creque's Strawberry Pie
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp. white corn syrup
3 oz. package strawberry Jell-O
3 tbsp. cornstarch
1 cup water
1 quart strawberries
1 ½ cups flour
2 tbsp. milk
2 tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt
½ cup oil
Mix crust ingredients and press into a 9” pie pan. Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown. Set aside to cool.
Cook the sugar, cornstarch, corn syrup and water until thick and clear. Remove from heat and add strawberry Jell-O. Let mixture cool. After cooled, add the fresh strawberries to the mixture. Stir gently, then pour into baked pie shell. Top with whipped cream., and enjoy!