“BRECKON’S LOAD comes from Andrews’ Scenic Acres, a dozen kilometres southwest of Georgetown. When Bert Andrews bought the farm almost 30 years ago, there were many strawberry growers in the immediate area. He’s the last one left.
The only reason he’s left standing is that most of his customers come directly to him. They pick the strawberries on most of his fields themselves and pay $3.75 a quart – compared to the $2 he can get from the grocery chains.
He’s one of the few farmers left who’s permitted to make direct deliveries. But they pay only in sentimentality. “Sometime I’m not sure why I’m doing it,” he says, but then adds: “It’s kind of nice to supply your local neighbourhood, your local community.”
Andrews’ closest neighbour, Peter McCarthy, sold to a developer last year after an especially gruesome season. Two weeks before the strawberries on his patch were due to glow red, the nearby chain he counted on to accept hundreds of quarts daily cancelled. It no longer accepted back-door deliveries.
Then, California berries hit rock-bottom prices – 89 cents a pound. That wouldn’t cover McCarthy’s costs. So he cancelled his picking crew and left 40 per cent of his crops to rot on the field.
“Why should we spend money to lose money?” he says. “This is agriculture in Ontario. Where is the future?”