North Carolina ranks third in total strawberry production in the United States. We are unique in that a majority of our strawberries are sold directly to consumers through pick-your-own farms, farmers markets, farm stands and local groceries. In 2018, North Carolina produced 12.5 million pounds of strawberries, totaling almost $21.4 million in income for our local farmers.
The most popular varieties here are Sweet Charlie, Camarosa, and Chandler, all known as tasty local market selections. Newer varieties are consistently being bred, including here in North Carolina, for disease resistance and climate adaptability.
A majority of North Carolina strawberries are grown using the “Southeastern” or “Hill” plasticulture system. This method, originally developed by NC growers in conjunction with NC State University researchers, adapts strawberry production to North Carolina conditions by preparing strawberries for the colder winter weather. Over the growing season, usually running from late September to early April, farmers use a variety of methods, such as row covers, to prepare the fruit for harvest. Come spring, it’s a ritual for thousands of North Carolina families to visit local pick-your-own strawberry farms. You’ll also find fresh harvested strawberries at farm stands, local farmers markets, and local grocery stores.
Find Strawberries Near You
You can find fresh, North Carolina strawberries from your nearby farmers market, a pick-your-own farm, or your local grocery! Find a farmers market near you with the North Carolina Farm Fresh Farmers Market Directory. You can search by county or by market name! Looking to pick your own? Download the Visit NC Farms app to find pick-your-own strawberry farms in your region. You can also find a list of farms and map from the North Carolina Strawberry Association.
Spring is for North Carolina Strawberries
Watch this video from the North Carolina State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences to learn about different breeds of strawberries, new breeds coming to fruition, and the greater strawberry industry here in North Carolina.
Want to learn more about how strawberries are grown in North Carolina?
Check out this video from UNC-TV: Strawberry Mania!
North Carolina Strawberry Association
The North Carolina Strawberry Association is a non-profit organization based in Siler City, North Carolina that works to promote local strawberry production and marketing in North Carolina and across the Southeast. They support farmers, researchers, and consumers through award initiatives, scholarships, research grants, and their farm locator. The NCSA also offers a variety of publications for purchase, including the Strawberry Plasticulture Manual.
Each year, the NCSA holds a conference, the Southeast Strawberry Expo, to discuss the latest in strawberry production. You can sign up for their monthly newsletter to learn more about the expo and stay up to date on all things strawberry in the Southeast!
You can learn more about the North Carolina Strawberry Association by visiting their website at https://ncstrawberry.com/.
Get to Know Your Strawberry Farmer
Growers found themselves in uncharted territory when effects of the pandemic began to set in during March of last year, right before strawberry picking season.
Karma Lee of Buckwheat Farm, a pick-your-own strawberry farm located in Apex, knew she had to adapt fast. Like many other farms across the state, Buckwheat Farm adapted their operations to accommodate for social distancing, increased sanitation, and limited customer interactions. They even added an online shop and drive-through so people could get fresh strawberries without having to step out of their car.
Lee’s expertise in strawberry production and farm operations has grown since the family bought their land in 1994, helping her to accommodate the farm as needed. But, at first, the Lee family had no idea what to do with all their newfound space. Lee, recalling her own memories of picking strawberries in central Illinois as a kid, suggested they grow strawberries.
“We had this big Chevrolet, and it had a huge, huge trunk,” said Lee. Her mom would collect all the pots, pans, and bowls she could find to fill the trunk with two layers of strawberries. Then, her family would make lots of jams and jellies, selling any leftover berries to their neighbors for just 25 cents. Lee knew she wanted to help other families make the same memories she now cherished. So, they chose to start a strawberry farm on their new property.
But, only having some gardening skills under their belt, they had no idea where to start. They got to work with the help of NC State Extension, Mitchell Wrenn of Wrenn’s Farm, and the North Carolina Strawberry Association. By 1998, Buckwheat Farm had planted and harvested their first crop.
Since then, Lee and her family have added blueberries, mushrooms, honey, homemade ice cream, and handcrafted jams and jellies to their repertoire.
Despite the pandemic, Lee hopes she can continue to help families build long-lasting memories at Buckwheat Farm. “We see a lot of families here and they’re taking lots of pictures and then you see them come back year after year. And so, I just feel like what we’re doing is helping provide some good memories for families and for kids,” said Lee.
When asked about when their farm would be open to the public, Lee responded, “Strawberries are like having a baby… You know they’re coming, but you never know exactly what day they’re going to get here.”You can learn more about Buckwheat Farm and when they open by liking them on Facebook or by visiting their website at https://www.buckwheatfarm.com/.
Don’t live near Apex, NC?
Check out these farmers or
use the Visit NC Farms app!
Find Strawberries at Your Local Farmers Market
When spring rolls around, farmers markets are stacked high with strawberries and other spring produce. Find your local farmers market using the North Carolina Farm Fresh Farmers Market Directory or look through the markets and vendors we have highlighted below!
Nash County Farmers Market
The Nash County Famers Market is the premier farmers market in eastern NC. Located in the Historic Rocky Mount Mills District, it provides area farmers with a storefront for the retail sale of their locally produced items. The market philosophy is consistent with long term economic development and the preservation of our local farming community. This market is not just a building. It’s the dynamic activity of all of the people involved in growing, harvesting, buying, selling and sometimes socializing that make this market truly distinctive. The market is open April through December on Saturdays mornings and on Tuesday afternoon in June, July, and August. The facility and market in this location is in its sixteenth season. It encompasses two building and host 40+ vendors each week. We are located at 1006 Peachtree St. Rocky Mount, NC 27804. Our hours are April to December on Saturdays 8am to 1pm & June, July and August on Tuesdays 3pm to 6pm. Reach us at 252-904-3250 or Mmbrow24@ncsu.edu.
Greensboro Farmers Curb Market
The Greensboro Farmers Curb Market is a producer-only farmers market with all products originating 100 miles or less from Greensboro. GFM relies on fundraisers, grants, and community donations to operate the Market, subsidize vendor tables, and coordinate food security programs. The Curb Market, probably the oldest producers’ market in North Carolina, was founded by the City of Greensboro in 1874. You can shop Saturdays 8 am to 12 noon (beginning May 1) indoors and outdoors at the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market with over 60 vendors offering seasonal produce, fruits, veggies, meats, seafood, eggs, dairy, honey, baked goods and more. A limited number of strawberries will be available on Wednesdays 8 am to 11 am at our outdoor mini mid week market. Please arrive 30 minutes before closing to shop the curb market. We are located at 501 Yanceyville Street. Reach us at GSOFarmersMarket.org, 336-373-2402, and check out our Facebook for updates: gsofarmersmkt.
Carrboro Farmers Market
Locally grown, nationally known! Founded in 1979, the Carrboro Farmers’ Market aims to create and sustain a vibrant and innovative market that supports our local farmers and artisans, while extending the benefits of local food to the greater community. Located at the Carrboro Town Commons at 301 West Main Street in downtown Carrboro, vendors sell a wide selection of the highest quality locally-grown produce, pasture-raised meats, eggs, cheeses, breads, pastries, woodwork, metalwork, pottery, woven rugs, baskets, and much more. All of the goods sold are produced within 50 miles of the market, and the farmers and artisans themselves run the CFM. In fact, the actual owner of each business or farm is present at the market each week. It is truly as local as it gets. The CFM is nationally recognized and home to many of the most talented growers and artisans in the region. The CFM is open Saturdays year-round and Wednesday seasonally. Current hours are Saturday mornings from 7am to noon and Wednesday afternoons from 3-6pm, rain or shine.
NCFM vendors with strawberries
- Wrenn’s Farm
- HS Howell Farms
- Rob’s Fresh Produce
- Mama Jean’s Produce
- Strawberry City
GFM vendors with strawberries
- Phillips Farm
- Sugar Hill Produce (chemical free)
- Smith Farms
CFM vendors with strawberries
- Brooks Farm
- Cates Corner Farm
- Eco Farm
- Lyon Farms
- Maple Spring Gardens
- McAdams Farm
- Flat River Nursery & Farm
- Split Acre Farm
- Turtle Run Farm
- Mu Tar K’Paw Gardens
- Zack’s Family Farm
Celebrate Mother’s Day safely this year by getting outdoors, picking your own strawberries, and making one of the delicious
recipes featuring this state berry from below. You can find even more recipes from the North Carolina Strawberry Association.
Enjoy this triple berry kale salad, featuring strawberries, from Cottle Farms, a local NC strawberry grower!
Try this classic recipe from Lewis Farms, one of the largest nurseries and farms in NC.
Old-Fashioned Strawberry Ice Cream
Looking to cool down on a hot day? Check out this mouthwatering recipe from Our State Magazine.