Strawberry: it’s a juicy gem of a word, conjuring memories of shortcakes and jams, muffins and cobblers, brushing dirt off a freshly picked fruit before taking a bite.

Summertime in the Petoskey area would not be complete without these crimson fruits. With a short season and a long history of cultivation, millennia of folks have reveled in this sweet and fleeting part of summer.

Did you know that strawberry varieties are found all over the globe? The plant was used medicinally in ancient Rome and as a symbol of virtue in Medieval Europe. Strawberry species grow all over North and South America, and though the French have cultivated the fruits since the 1300s, it was a cross between a Virginian and Chilean strawberry that brought us the plump and juicy berries we’ve grown to love.

But you don’t have to go all the way to France to enjoy luscious strawberries. We grow plenty in northern Michigan. In fact, Michigan growers produce over 43,000 tons of the nation’s fifth favorite fruit. While Emmet and surrounding counties aren’t the top producers, you’ll find plenty of berries to satisfy your taste buds.

First, check out this guide, featuring the harvest months for all variety of fresh produce. Not only will you find strawberries, with their tragically short season in June, you’ll discover the best months to go on the hunt for apricots, blueberries, asparagus, sugar snap peas, and all sorts of other local produce.

For the freshest of the fresh strawberries, you’ve got several regional options.

First, try local farmers markets. Downtown Petoskey Farmers Market, held between the end of May and September, is loaded with strawberries come June. Fruit Coast Farms, Guntzvillers Berry Farm, Dhaseeler Farm, and others usually have strawberries available during the season. Plus, you can often hear live music, purchase gourmet mushrooms (including morels), find purveyors of locally raised meat, and peruse table after table of locally-grown vegetables. Emmet County Recycling will be on hand with their compost collector, so bring your kitchen scraps for composting.

The Petoskey Market is located on Howard St. between Michigan and Mitchell. That means you’ll be a stone’s throw away from famed lunch spot Julienne Tomatoes, and around the corner from Tillie’s Tafel, one of the finest cinnamon roll purveyors in the land.

The Boyne City Farmer’s Market, located at Veterans Park on Wednesdays and Saturdays all through the summer, is another reliable spot for summer strawberries. Providence Organic Farm out of Central Lake travels to Boyne each week to sling strawberries, and they’re one of the few folks in northern Michigan to host a strawberry U-pick. According to Ellie Romeyn of Providence, U-pick availability depends on the year and the yield. Even though they’ve held it at their farm/market/natural foods store/café/petting zoo most years, definitely check for availability before you head out there. Dhaseeler Farm, Guntzviller’s Berries, and occasionally Interwater Farms also show up with fresh strawberries.

A U-Pick haul from Providence Organic Farm. Photo credit: Jen DeMoss

And in case you need another reason to head to Boyne City, note that Gilda’s Lake Street Bakery, featured in our comprehensive bakery guide, makes crepes at the market every Saturday.

Guntzviller’s and Farmer White are on hand to provide berries at the Harbor Springs Farmer’s Market Saturdays and Wednesdays on Main Street in downtown Harbor. While you’re there, make sure to visit My Sister’s Bake Shop, also featured in our bakery guide, at the Saturday market during the summer.

Speaking of organic strawberries, have you ever visited Coveyou Scenic Farm Market? Located just a few minutes past the big box stores on Highway 131, this family-owned farm has been in operation for 150 years as of July 2024. And they sell loads of strawberries. Oodles of them. Baskets and boxes of delicious, ripe fruit.

“Being an organic farm, we grow a range of products, but strawberries are something everyone loves,” said David Coveyou, the farm’s fifth-generation owner. “The flavor is so much better than store-bought berries. I think it’s because we pick them every day and they grow in our certified-organic soil. And every year, we grow more and more of them.”

Bill’s Farm Market, an incredibly popular stop for local produce on Petoskey’s East Mitchell St. and fourth-generation farm, carries a bounty of ruby-red strawberries during their fleeting season. (Featured in the header image.) And Red Cardinal Farm sells organic strawberries from their jolly red farm stand on Resort Pike Rd. in Petoskey. Both carry a variety of seasonal produce grown right here in northern Michigan.

Wondering what to do with your strawberry bounty? If you’re like me, you buy enormous quantities of these little red jewels to freeze and eat year-round. Try out Smitten Kitchen’s fruit galette, a quick and easy pie that you can slap on a pan and eat within half an hour. It’s always a hit at potlucks, and works well with frozen fruits. Or try this incredible strawberry shortcake recipe. Whatever you do with your berries, from making them into jam to eating them out of hand, you won’t regret going on the hunt for them in the Petoskey area.

Throwing together a galette made from local strawberries is easy. Stopping at just one slice is the hard part. Photo credit: Jen DeMoss

About the Author: Jen DeMoss is a newcomer to the Petoskey area and loves northern Michigan. You can catch her paddling a canoe, hiking a trail, or swimming in Lake Michigan as often as the weather cooperates. She’d love to help you make the most of your time in this paradise she now calls home.





Header Image: An abundance of strawberries awaits you at Bill’s Farm Market in Petoskey. Photo credit: Bill’s Farm Market