Some Dungeness Valley berries late, but early varieties still sweet

DUNGENESS — If you don’t believe good things come to those who wait, taste this.

It’s a crimson berry from Arturo Flores’ field — one of relatively few red ones — and it seems sweeter owing to that old thing called delayed gratification.

The fruit at Graysmarsh Farm is running late this year, said Flores, who’s worked these strawberry fields for 26 years.

“It’s been very wet and very cold,” this spring, he said.

But there’s happy news for lovers of local berries.

There are enough ripe ones for Flores and his staff to pick 100 pounds for their 2008 premiere.

Friends of the Fields, Clallam County’s farmland preservation coalition, will make this first blush into shortcake, and sell it at the Sequim Open Aire Market, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday on West Cedar Street.

Then, Flores said, Graysmarsh’s 4 acres of strawberries are about to become a you-pick hotbed, if the volume of visitors is any indication.

“We have people coming in and out all day long,” asking when the you-pick season will start, he said.

The farm, on Woodcock Road just east of Sequim-Dungeness Way, is a sight to behold, with its fields of berries, lavender, and even 2 acres of wine grapes, stretching out to the horizon.

But hold on, Flores said. All this fruit hasn’t quite reached its peak of flavor.

“We’re not ready for the public,” he said.

Just one more week is needed for the bulk of the berries to be ready for plucking.

You-pick will get under way next Saturday, June 28, as Sue Jones, queen bee of the strawberry fields, will pass around the buckets between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Berries will go for $1.50 per pound. For updated information about you-pick availability, phone the farm at 360-683-5563.

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