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Strawberry season off to a good start at Goughan’s Farm in Caribou

CARIBOU, Maine — For many people in Aroostook County, summer does not officially begin until their first sweet taste of fresh strawberries. Goughan’s Farm in Caribou recently opened 10 acres of strawberry fields to the community, allowing them to pick their own baskets of the famous summer treat.

Like with other agricultural crops, the success of the strawberry season largely depends on the weather patterns each year, according to Mark Goughan, whose family has operated Goughan’s Farm for four generations. While the record winter snowfall in 2019 protected the strawberries that were planted the year before, spring temperatures were on the cooler side, particularly at night.

The delay in warmer weather has pushed back the start of the strawberry season by five to seven days this year, Goughan said. But the more typical summer weather, with temperatures in the high 70s and 80s, allowed the five varieties of strawberries to be ready for an opening day of July 5.

Brooklyn Smith, 8, of Presque Isle picks strawberries during a visit to Goughan’s Farm on July 5.
(Staff photo/Melissa Lizotte)

“The crop looks great, with a lot of berries out there,” Goughan said. “Everything depends on the weather. If the weather is cooler with adequate rainfall our season will last four weeks but if it’s hot and dry the season will last three weeks.”

During the season the strawberry fields, located at the family’s farm on 875 Fort Fairfield Road in Caribou, are typically best for picking from early to mid-July. The fields run on a yearly rotation for which farm employees plant 2 ½ to 3 acres of new strawberries and take out 2 ½ to 3 acres of older strawberries.

That method combined with ideal weather temperatures, Goughan noted, can produce the best tasting strawberries.

Brooklyn Smith, 8, of Presque Isle picks strawberries during a visit to Goughan’s Farm on July 5.
(Staff photo/Melissa Lizotte)

“Having a good amount of rainfall gives the berries a nice juicy taste while the sun helps with sweetness,” Goughan said.

The Goughan family has been planting strawberries since 1986 and also produce a variety of annual crops such as sweet corn, raspberries, pumpkins, squash, lettuce, green beans and flowers. The farm offers seasonal activities for the community, including a miniature golf course, corn maze, Christmas trees and wreaths.

Goughan said strawberries offer a great summer treat because they’re easy to store and prepare for snacks. Offering the fields to folks both near and far for picking is one way that his family strives to give back to the community and promote agri-tourism.

“It’s an outdoor activity that families can enjoy together in a safe environment,” Goughan said.

On Friday morning, Christina Smith of Presque Isle brought her children and a few visiting relatives to Goughan’s for some strawberry picking. She noted that eating and savoring fresh strawberries has become a fun tradition for her family.

Goughan’s Farm in Caribou recently began the strawberry season by welcoming community members to pick fresh strawberries.
(Staff photo/Melissa Lizotte)

“We love coming here instead of buying strawberries at the store,” Smith said.

Smith’s daughter Brooklyn, 8, said that strawberry picking is just as fun as eating the fresh berries.

“Eating them is the best part. They’re sweet and juicy,” she said.

Goughan’s Farm is open for strawberry picking from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

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