I, Farmer John, say friends because through the years many of you have become not just customers, but friends. We have watched each other’s families grow up as we’ve been growing strawberries for the last 26 years. It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we have decided this will be our last year of growing strawberries at both of our farm locations. Change is hard, but Donna and I have reached the age where we desire to simplify our lives and slow down a bit. We will still have all of our fall activities with the pumpkin patch, corn maze, sunflowers, and all of our farm activities, but this will be our last strawberry season. It has been an incredible 26 years of growing strawberries, and all of YOU are the reason we have been able to do that… in addition to God’s hand of blessing on the farms!
Back in 1992, I approached my friend Coleman Whitehead about buying some land to grow strawberries on and he asked me, “What if no one comes to pick them? No one’s ever done that before around here!” Well… we planted, God blessed, the strawberries grew, and the people came! Now, 26 years later, we are thankful we planted that first crop!
After our first week of picking strawberries this year, I walked into our bedroom and my wife, Donna, was sitting on our bed with huge tears running down her cheeks. I thought something terrible had happened. When I asked what was wrong, she said that she was writing her letter to all of you and it was just very hard and sad. It was strange because I was feeling the same thing. So many people had already come up to us during the first week of the season and told each of us stories of how picking strawberries at Washington Farms was a tradition they looked forward to every year. Some shared that their mother or friends were coming into town and they wanted to get strawberries for them.
Many of you brought your kids out to our farm long ago when they were little, and now they are grown and bringing their kids to the farm! We have watched your families grow and make memories that will last a lifetime. At the same time, many of you remember our kids when they were very small, and as you have come back to our farm each year you have watched our kids grow up as well!
We hold so many wonderful memories close to our hearts! One gentleman used to bring Donna beautiful flowers from his garden. A neighbor used to bring me meals and desserts when she knew I was running the farm from 8am-8pm without a break! That sweet lady is still a very dear friend and brings our family her famous strawberry cake several times a year!
Many times Donna and I would be in a restaurant, Walmart, or a grocery store and we would overhear a child tell their mom or dad, “That’s the strawberry lady!” or “That’s the pumpkin man!” or “That’s the pig race man!” Then they would usually chat with us for a brief moment about good times at the farm. Personally, I have always loved the kids that came out to the farm on field trips. I have driven the hayrides many times and I liked to tell the kids that I was tired and needed one of them to drive the tractor for me! It was always neat to see the children’s different reactions! Some would immediately reply, “Yeah I’ll drive it!” and then others would get this terrible look of total fear on their face! Kids are so much fun!
We have had so many wonderful memories, which is why this is so hard for us. It just breaks our hearts to see this chapter in our lives come to a close. It has been our privilege to serve all of you, your families, and this community through our strawberry business. We are grateful for the opportunity.
It would be such a blessing if you would write us and share your personal stories and memories of good times you’ve had at our strawberry farm. One of our customer’s stories that stands out in my mind was a grandmother who came up and shared that her daughter had passed away. She was taking care of her grandchildren and said she hadn’t seen them really smile in months. She wanted to do something fun for them, so although she was hesitant, she brought them out to our farm. She said it was such a blessing to her to watch her grandchildren laugh, play and have the best time.
If you would be willing to share your memories with us, we would love to hear them! You can share them with us by: