Run by the Schwab family — mother Ellen and her sons Jake and Sam, since 1982 — the 10-acre farm has been in good hands for almost four decades.
“Hey Mom, what year did we start doing the strawberries?”
“’82,” Ellen yelled back to Jake, from several feet away at the picker’s “station” in the garage.
“Mom, how many strawberry plants did we plant this year?” this time Sam, the younger of the two, asked.
“Uh … 24,000,” she answered after a brief pause.
“Yeah,” Jake added while making our way to the fields, “for as long as Sam and I have been around (granted, both are under 30,) we’ve been planting strawberries.”
“The big thing is that everything is picked by hand,” Sam said.
Following a quick overview of the fields and a crash course on strawberry-picking techniques by the brothers, I was handed a quart-sized basket and let loose.
“You can pick these right out (of the field) and eat ’em,” said the elder brother. “The most you’d have to do is rinse them off when you take them home.”
When asked what the best part of working at Troy Mills is, Jake credited the workers and community members.
“We have good people (who) help us out … and good people for customers.”
“They’ve been truckers too … picking out in the rain. I think we got a good crew.”
Back in the garage, pickers Sandy Hooper and Carolyn Sabo were sorting and loading the berries into quart baskets.
Hooper, who lives across the road from Troy Mills, has helped out at the farm for nearly 15 years.
“I’m just a friend,” Sabo said. “I’ve been doing it (helping at Troy Mills) off and on for about two … three years or so.”
Once the remaining strawberries have been harvested, Troy Mills will make way for red and — for the first time — black raspberries.
The farm is located at 3413 Troy Mills Road, Willard, and is online at www.troymillsfarm.com. People also can call to place orders and check for hours or crop availability at 419-465-2806 or on the Troy Mills Farm Facebook page.