A warm winter has brought strawberries early to Elliott Farms in Lizella.
The popular you-pick farm normally opens around April 1, said Debra Elliott, who co-owns it with her husband Russ. But this year the farm opened March 10, which is the earliest it has opened in 21 years of operation.
The farm was so busy the first week that the ripe berries were picked out and they had to close. Now the Elliotts advise people to call or check their Facebook page each day to see if they are open.
“We have just been asking everyone to be patient with us because this us new to us being this early,” Debra Elliott said.
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They were also closed briefly last week due to a late freeze in which their five acres of strawberries had to be covered. Elliott said they suffered only minor damage.
Many people were enjoying a beautiful day Sunday picking the big red berries that cost $2.50 a pound. Just about everyone enjoyed a post-pick cup of homemade strawberry ice cream as the Elliott’s baby goat, named “Baby Goat,” played with children.
Among the pickers were Erick and Lindsey D’Leon of Macon and their three children, Leila, 5, Sophia, 4, and 10-month-old Landon. Erick said they try to go twice a month during the growing season and the ice cream is their favorite part of the trip. They also like getting their food from a local source.
“It’s always better to come to a farm and get local when you can,” Erick said as he fed Landon some ice cream.
Also picking was Chad and Brandee Miller and their two children, Aubree, 17, and Caden, 13.
“We like getting the strawberries but we love getting the ice cream,” she said.
Located on a dirt road, a trip to Elliott Farms has the feel of an old-time visit to grandma’s house. There is an old farm house and a shed with a porch where people can sit and enjoy the ice cream after returning from the field. A pasture on the other side of the house from the strawberry field has some horses, donkeys and goats.
Elliott said her husband had been doing traditional farming already when they drove past a strawberry farm in north Georgia in 1995 and he decided to stop for a visit.
“He got back in the car and said, ‘Oh, we’re fixing to start raising strawberries,’ ” she recalled.
They planted their first crop that fall and had their first harvest the next spring. They also have blackberries, scuppernongs, onions and other vegetables. They are building a large green house and hope to start growing tomatoes, but Elliott didn’t know if that would happen this year.
Elliot Farms is located at 4761 Holley Road, Lizella. To check whether it is open each day, call 478-935-8180.