The second time I picked fresh strawberries at Rocky Creek Farm outside of Bozeman, was with my two young children, Ellie and Alex. The first time was with my parents 27 years ago. It was during that second harvest with my children two years ago, I swore I would never buy a commercial strawberry again. Fast-forward to today, my freezer is empty and I am eagerly anticipating the annual strawberry harvest of the best strawberries I have ever tasted! With the exception of a few weak, and ultimately disappointing moments at the grocery store in early summer, I have held strong to that declaration I made a few years ago.
Rocky Creek Farm is the quintessential romantic farm experience without the sunrise to sunset backbreaking labor and expansive land requirements. The 50-acre farm is a ‘harvest your own’ kinda place, which makes for an unbelievably fun family outing, several times a month, or even weekly during the summer. My kids are already asking when we will go pick strawberries this year.
Strawberries are the first crop of the year at Rocky Creek. Harvest time usually starts in July, but this year it started early on June 27, and will last about three weeks. The farm plants the labor-intensive old fashioned ‘June-bearing’ perennial variety, giving the berries its amazing flavor and sweetness. Of course, picking the berries straight off the plant and at peak ripeness also makes for the “best strawberry you will ever taste!”
The berries are smaller and pack a 100 times the sweetness and flavor than ‘day neutral’ annual varieties that you find in the grocery stores. We usually pick several pounds of strawberries about once a week, making sure to pick enough to eat some daily and freeze some to hopefully last until the following year. To freeze the berries, I lay the them out in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet, freeze for about an hour, then transfer to a ziplock bag.
Summer and fall bring a variety of fresh bounty from Rocky Creek Farms. After strawberries, come raspberries, sweet and hot peppers, and cucumbers throughout the summer. Apples, pressed cider and pumpkins are bountiful in the fall. They even offer Christmas trees in December. While the fruits and vegetables are not organic, the farm practices sustainable farming, minimizing fertilizer use and they do not spray herbicides or pesticides on the crops.
Every year, I pinch myself because we are so fortunate to have such an amazing, local, sustainable, and accessible resource like Rocky Creek Farm. They have been in operation for 34 years, are family run and also employ agricultural students and others eager to learn sustainable farming. By now, our annual strawberry harvesting has become a welcome tradition that I hope our family, and yours, continue for many, many years.
“U Pick Strawberries” – $4.00/lb. – For best results, bring your own containers and cooler to chill your berries quickly.
Rocky Creek Farm is located about 5 miles from downtown Bozeman on the east Frontage Road about 2 miles east of the Subaru dealership. Open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays – 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.
Rocky Creek Farm
34297 Frontage Road
Bozeman, Montana 59715