As the confinement softened, my mother invited us to go strawberry picking. When I asked my husband if he was interested in coming, he replied, “What, is it legal to do this?” He did not know of this relatively popular activity in Quebec, which consists of picking fruit directly from the producer’s fields and paying him for what we harvested. There is something to pick for every season: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, apples…
We went to the place that my family has frequented for many years: Au Paradis des fraises (Straberries heaven) in Lavaltrie, Lanaudière. The road is straightforward from Montreal, it takes only forty minutes to get there using Highway 40.
At the entrance, they gave us the cardboard baskets used for picking and they explained to us the health regulations they put in place for COVID-19:
- It’s mandatory to wear a mask at all time (bring your own, otherwise they sell some at the entrance)
- Mandatory hand washing upon arrival in the picking area
- It is forbidden to eat strawberries in the fields
- Respect social distancing from other pickers (2 metres)
We parked on the sandy side of the road leading to the field that had been assigned to us. We could peek at all the beautiful red strawberries that awaited us. Each of us armed with their own three-litre basket, we began to pick up the ripe fruits.
The big difference between self-picking and buying strawberries from Quebec elsewhere is the ripeness and the freshness of the produce. There is no transportion time to take into account, but it also means that you have to eat them quickly.
The hardest part was resisting to gorge on the strawberries directly in the field. Usually, we take the opportunity to put some in our mouths instead of the basket. It was forbidden, because in a pandemic. You would be putting your hand to your mouth and then back to the plant which is not a good idea. Even less so because you would have to manipulate your mask.
The picking was fairly quick after an employee told us where most fruit remained. It took us about thirty minutes to fill a basket while taking out time and enjoying the sun.
It was a great activity and I was very happy that there were toilets available on the edge of the field. Au Paradis des fraises offers several varieties of strawberries when we went (end of June) we picked their early variety.
230 Point-du-Jour sud, Lavaltrie, J5T 3P4
40 minutes from Montreal by car (highway 40E, exit 100)
3 L basket about $8 (06/2020)
Toilets available onsite
Don’t forget your mask (COVID-19)