A few weeks ago I had a real hankerin’ for some strawberries. I checked into my regular favorite upick farms, but no one was quite ready yet. So I searched the Alberta Farm Fresh Producers Associate Website for strawberry growers in my area. An lo, and behold, what should I find but a brand new upick farm. Billyco Junction, just east of Lacombe, had just opened for the first time ever. So off we headed to Billyco Junction.
For a brand new upick farm, I must say I was very impressed. It seems they are well on their way to a successful upick farm. The first thing I noticed was their lovely yard. Everything was well kept and looking sharp. The same could be said about their fields, which leads me to the second thing I noticed: They have a little bit of everything! Fruits and vegetables galore! Just take a look at their website under ‘Garden Delights’ for a list of all that they have and plan to have – www.billycojunction.com
But on this occasion I was on the hunt for strawberries and Billyco Junction was just the only place I could find at this time of year that had them. In fact, I happened to call on their opening day. I arrived after supper and unfortunately they had already been picked clean by the day’s customers. That was a little disappointing, but certainly understandable since they were the only ones open for the season yet. But I returned a few days later and there was no lack of berries.
It didn’t take very long to fill my basket (with the help of my kids). We were picking from newly planted strawberries, so the berries were a little smaller than what you would find on the second year strawberries. They were also planted in plastic mulch and had not yet been mulched with straw, so the berries were a little dirty. However, had I been just a week or two more patient, we could have been picking from the established and straw mulched berries and had larger, cleaner berries. But what can you do when you have a hankerin’ for strawberries before they’re ready? I’ll tell you… You take what you can get.
One things that I appreciate about Billyco Junction is the owners. Bill & Edie Biel are well suited for the upick business – friendly, helpful, and there when you need them! Even on the day when I came late and the berries were gone, Edie kindly took me on a small tour of their operation.
There were just a few things that are currently lacking – and I’m sure as they get a bit of experience under their belt these things will be shortly forthcoming. Parking is one – as we drove into their yard we didn’t really know where we should be parking. A sign or two would be helpful here. The other is washroom facilities. I didn’t inquire, but I didn’t notice any public washroom facilities. But like I said, I’m sure it won’t be long before these things are taken care of.
A Final Word
If you are in the Lacombe area, this is one upick farm to watch. They have already done so many things right and they’ve only been running for less than a month! With a little bit of time and experience, I am confident that Billyco Junction will become a premier upick site. I’ve already been their twice and a couple more trips this season seem to be in order! Check ’em out for yourself!
Want to Visit Billyco Junction?
Here’s what you need to know:
East of Lacombe on Highway 12, approximately 8 km to Prentiss Road. Go south on Prentiss Road, approximately 4.4 km. Billyco Junction is on the west side of the road.
At the time of this article, strawberries were $3.00 per lb.
You can visit their website at http://www.billycojunction.com or give them a call at (403) 782-4263.