EAST BEND — It’s a short but very sweet season in the Yadkin Valley — strawberry season. All year long the smiling strawberry logo of Scooterbug’s Strawberries beckons to passersby on N.C. 67. As soon as spring arrives, area residents begin looking for the small red sign that gets added to the larger sign proclaiming that the strawberries are ready at last.
“This man raises the best berries around,” proclaimed Ralph Williams of East Bend. Williams stopped by Scooterbug’s on Friday to pick up a gallon of berries.
“They’re excellent berries,” Williams added.
Owner Chuck Wooten has two and half acres of berries at the farm, with plans to increase his plantings for next year.
Despite some challenges with the weather this year, Wooten said the crop was doing good.
“We spent about eight nights this year doing frost protection, that’s about twice what we did last year,” Wooten said.
A freeze on March 15 reset the clock on the crop, he said, but once the frozen blooms were removed, the plants continued to thrive.
“We actually opened about the same time we did last year,” Wooten said. Scooterbug’s opened on April 26 and Wooten said he hopes to remain open through the end of May.
“The crop’s coming on good. We’ve got plenty of good fruit. The only thing we’re trying to figure out now is will the season last as long as it did last year because of those early blooms,” he said.
The strawberry patch is named in honor of Wooten’s youngest daughter Samantha, whose childhood nickname was Scooterbug. She often helps out at the farm after school and will be graduating from Forbush High School in June with plans to attend NC State University in the fall. Wooten’s oldest daughter Rachel will be helping out at the farm as well. She graduates from NC State in May.
Last fall, the Wooten family began a new tradition with a pumpkin patch, named Sweet Pea’s after Rachel’s childhood nickname.
“That turned out pretty decent for a first-year venture,” Wooten said. “I didn’t know if we’d sell 10 pumpkins or we’d sell 100 and we ended up selling about $3,000 worth of pumpkins. It floored me.”
Sweet Pea’s Pumpkin Patch offered orange pumpkins suitable for carving jack-o-lanterns in several different sizes. Wooten also had areas set up where families could take fall-themed photos, which he said was very popular among visitors.
He got many requests for more unusual types of pumpkins such as white pumpkins, ugly worty pumpkins and smaller sizes of pumpkins so he said he plans to add more varieties for this coming fall. The pumpkin planting will begin in July.
Wooten’s farm also recently received a grant from NC AgVentures for an industrial cooler where he will be able to better store berries for customers. Next spring, Wooten said, he plans to expand the strawberry patch and add an acre of organic berries which will be sold at area farmers markets.
Scooterbug’s Strawberries is located at 3321 Wooten Farm Road, just off N.C. 67 in East Bend. The berry patch is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Strawberries are $10 per gallon for pre-picked berries or $7.50 per gallon for customer picked.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter and Instagram @RippleReporterK.