INMAN — Since her half-acre of plants were picked clean in a few days last year, Kelli Regehr decided to expand Farm View U-Pick Strawberry Patch, which is now open from 8 to 11 a.m. at 207 Eighth Ave. and from 6 to 8 p.m. at the new additional location, 236 Eighth Ave. in Inman.
"The demand is there and we wanted to meet the demand," Regehr said.
Regehr grew a variety of strawberry plants in her original patch, which was first planted in the spring of 2016.
"We're going to keep those going as long as we can," Regehr said.
The new patch — one and a half acres of Chandler and Camarosa varieties — is made up of 11,000 strawberry plants.
"We planted those in September and they should be good for about a year," Regehr said. "We're going to try to get two years out of them."
The plant rows are covered in plastic to control weed growth and make it easier for pickers to see the strawberries.
When she isn't teaching at Inman Elementary School, Regehr spends time mowing and pulling weeds out of her patches. That hard work paid off early this year, as Farm View U-Pick Strawberry Patch was able to open two weeks earlier than usual, on May 16.
"I ended school on that Wednesday and the next day we opened it up," Regehr said.
Customers who come out to the strawberry patches are provided with a waxed tray and given basic instructions on how to best pick the fruit without squishing it.
"They can pick however much they want and then at the end ... we weigh the trays," Regehr said.
Farm View U-Pick Strawberry Patch, which accepts cash and checks, charges $4 per pound of strawberries.
"A lot of people will make jam out of them," Regehr said. "Others bake with them. The kids eat them on the way back to the house."
Regehr estimates Farm View U-Pick Strawberry Patch will be open until June 1 — if the fruit is not completely picked before that date.
Those wanting to come out and pick strawberries may want to check the radar, as the patches will close during periods of rain.
Encouraging adults and children to spend time outdoors was part of the motivation for starting Farm View U-Pick Strawberry Patch.
"That's the best part, just watching the families out here," Regehr said. "Our goal was to get families out of the house and off the electronics into nature, being with each other."
To learn more about Farm View U-Pick Strawberry Patch, visit its Facebook page.
Contact Patricia Middleton by email at email@example.com or follow her stories on Twitter at @MiddleSentinel.