Driving away COVID-19 blues with strawberries

The Green Barn Berry Farm was always meant for berry picking. The land was purchased by Ralph and Edna Styer in the 1950s. They had a steady potato crop, but the Styers always had a passion for blueberries. 

Robyn Schreiber, granddaughter to Ralph and Edna, owns the farm now with her husband Jarod and it’s the berries that bring in the crowds, who are eager for anything from strawberries to blueberries and blackberries. 

“People want to know where their food comes from,” Robyn Schreiber said. “It’s a wonderful time for anyone to come, especially families.” 

This year’s strawberry season is especially special as it offers a fun outdoor activity for people who have been cooped up at home with few options for social excursions that fit inside the restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 virus. 

On Wednesday, the farm had a steady stream of berry pickers. In all, Robyn Schreiber said numbers have been higher this year than in years past. 

“The demand has been more than we can even produce sometimes,” Jarod Schreiber said. 

To make sure they don’t run out of strawberries, closing time has been at noon on most days. 

To ensure the safety of their customers, a number of changes have been added. A hand-washing station is set up before visitors enter the fields. The store, which normally is inside the farm’s signature green barn, is now outside with a plexiglas shield hanging over the cash register. 

But the biggest change affects the farm’s motto, passed down in the Styer family through generations, “Two for you and one for the bucket.” Robyn Schrieber remembers her father telling her that as a child and now the phrase is printed on the farm’s entrance sign. 

Fears of the transmission of the novel coronavirus mean that now the Schreibers ask their pickers not to eat any berries while they are out in the fields. 

The adjustments aren’t all bad though, Jarod Schreiber said. Adding a hand washing station by the field probably will be one that sticks.  

With three weeks to go, it’s just the beginning of strawberry season. Next will be black and red raspberries and then blueberries. 


  • Anne Reiner has been a journalist for over eight years. She lives in Lycoming County and founded On the PULSE to create a new and engaging way to bring local news to the region of Northcentral, Pennsylvania.

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