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The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Northeast Ohio's fruit farms

Customers flocked in by the droves, leaving many pick your own areas now bare.

CHESTERLAND, Ohio — The pick your own berry fields at Patterson Fruit Farms are looking a bit empty.

David Patterson says the plants look green and lush, and there's some fruit, but just not enough of it to "pick your own."

"There's a chance we may be done," he told 3News. "The crop was limited this year, and we've had such heavy pressure picking them and we're getting near the end; the berries are getting smaller."

But they do have local berries in their market. Down the road a ways in Portage County sits Walnut Drive Gardens. They grow multiple crops of pick your own fruits and veggies.

The strawberry season this year?

"Busy and short," farmer Chris Saal said, adding their crop was about average but the crowds certainly weren't. Take opening day, which was only announced on Facebook at 10 p.m. the night before.

"I think the first person showed up at 7:15 in the morning, waited 45 minutes 'til we opened," Saal remembered. "At 8:10, we had 50 cars in the lot. By 10, it was 200 cars in our lot."

COVID-19 cabin fever still has people coming out to pick, but most of the berries are gone.

"We noticed a lot of people coming out and saying, 'This was our tradition for Father's Day,' or 'We can't wait.'"

But wait they must for strawberries. Patterson is hopeful for the future.

"The plants look good, so that should give us a good crop next year," he said.

Plus, at Walnut Drive, there's more you can pick!

"Next thing will be red raspberries, black raspberries, sugar snap peas, and blackberries," Saal said.

So get out and start a new tradition: Pandemic pick your own!

Check out our 2018 video on finding the best apples at Patterson's:

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