Long-time farmer’s market unable to produce enough strawberries for picking this season

Local News

EAST PEORIA, Ill. — Usually, the fields at Schaer’s Farm Market in East Peoria are full of people picking strawberries to enjoy on a hot summer’s day, but this year could prove to be a little different.

They announced on Tuesday that they will not be open for strawberry picking this season due to the cold and wet weather. 

Schaer’s Country Market in East Peoria usually produces a field full of sweet, juicy strawberries. Customers come from far and wide to get into these fields and grab their share. However, an unproductive growing season has left this family owned business without their most popular item.

“It’s our biggest crop of the entire farm, so when you take your largest, biggest revenue producer and knock it down to five percent, it takes a hit,” said Larry Schaer, owner of the operation.

Both of the owners of the business say they miss the commotion in the strawberry fields.

“On a good day, when we are picking a lot of berries, we’ll have 500 people picking. You know, and obviously they are excited, the kids are excited, they can’t wait for the wagon ride to go out in the field,” said Larry Schaer.

“We have a lot of customers that have probably been coming for, I don’t know, twenty or thirty years. They came when they were kids, and they came when they were kids, and now they are bringing their kids, and now they’re bringing their grand kids,” said Bonnie Schaer, owner.

Larry Schaer says this year’s batch of berries didn’t have a chance in this soggy growing season.

“The little center part, which is the berry, didn’t develop. So, if you don’t have that center part of the berry, you don’t have a berry. You’ve got a nice little flower and nothing to produce from it,” said Larry Schaer.

Even though the fan favorite crop didn’t sprout this time around, customers can still get a variety of cheeses, cucumbers, zucchini and other goods at Schaer’s Country Market.

“We really don’t get customers that are really angry or upset with us, they really understand. And, if they do seem to be angry and upset, I just share with them that we are probably as upset as they are,” said Bonnie Schaer.

“We appreciate your desire for strawberries and can only pray for a good year next year,” the market said.

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