The organic strawberries should be ready to pick by the end of the month at Storm Farms located on the edge of Arlington, in Dalworthington Gardens. Photos by J.G. Domke.
March 17, 2020
While many people are only venturing out of their homes for food and other staples hoping to dodge the coronavirus, there’s a mouthwatering option you might consider for your family’s fresh fruit supply.
Johanna Storm, owner of Storm Farms, examines her strawberry crop.
Just north of I-20 on Bowen Road in Arlington lies a remnant from a rural past, often overlooked by commuters on the highway - Storm Farms, a pick-your-own urban farm known for its organic strawberries.
Proprietor Johanna Storm said the strawberries are beginning to ripen and with the mild winter, she thinks they will be two weeks early this year and ready to pick before the end of the month.
Seeing people picking flowers motivates several cars to pull in and ask the farmer if they can start picking strawberries but she tells them to wait. However, the daffodils and tulips are still blooming at Storm Farms and can be picked.
Storm has been adding other crops to pick throughout the entire year. This is the second year she has grown the flowers.
Tulps and daffodils were available for picking on the day we visited.
While the farm's address is listed as Arlington, it's located on the west side of Bowen Road, which for two square miles is technically Dalworthington Gardens, a small community with just over 2,000 people self-described as a “rural oasis in the heart of the Metroplex.” The community was founded during the Great Depression with big lots to enable “subsistence homesteading.”
For Storm, the farm “was a dream” she says when she started in 2016 and simply saw it as a place where people could come and get outdoors.
The farm had sold strawberries in the past as the Gnismer Farm. It had been neglected for several years till Storm, who had just turned 30 years old, signed the lease. Raised in Desoto she majored in horticulture at Texas A&M, so the first crop of course was strawberries and they went on sale the following spring in 2017. She has been growing more and more plants and last year between April to June, she says she had “three to four thousand customers stop to pick strawberries.
The five-acre farm isn’t very large, and there isn’t much room for cars to pull off the road and park in the field, then walk to the stand to grab a basket and start picking.
Turning to walk a sign greets them, “Welcome U-Pick Customers” and states how Storm Farm believes in GAP, Good Agricultural Practices.
Since the strawberries won’t be cooked, touching and handling the fruit needs to be done properly. A sign in place even before the coronavirus broke out states the rules, “To ensure food safety: wash your hands before you pick, make sure children wash their hands, too, and wash your berries before you eat them.”
The "Wash Your Hands" sign isn't just for the currant health crisis. This is just good agricultural practices yearround.
Already this year a few strawberries have already ripened, so every evening Storm picks a few to sell the next day for $5, but when the picking begins, it will cost $8 per pound and a half. One local resident already has eaten some of these early ripening berries and has returned to order four more just to give to friends.
They taste better than what the stores sell, says Storm, who also says she never liked strawberries growing up, found them too tart, but now likes eating those she grows in the farm. Everything is organic and she is hoping to get Storm Farm certified organic.
Everything is organic and she is hoping to get Storm Farm certified organic.
The plants need a lot of water and the farm is able to pump it out from its own well, so they never have to pay for Arlington city water
“I do a lot of talking to people and showing them what farming really looks like,” she says. “Most people come out here and they have never been on a farm. They’ve never seen a farm. They don’t grow anything in their backyard!”
Mansfield mom takes a photo of her one-year-old, John Paul Phan.
Now after four years she’s discovered it isn’t as easy as she thought.
“There is a lot of the regular business stuff. I used to think 40 hours of work was normal, now it’s 60 hours.”
To earn a living, she realized she needed to grow more than just strawberries. Over the years Storm has added more crops to have something on the farm to sell year-round. After strawberries, the watermelons and cantaloupe should be ripening. Any leftover strawberries get made into jelly and she wants to try making strawberry ice cream.
“This year I’ll add summer flowers,” she says, offering sunflowers, strawflowers also, cucumbers, green beans, snap peas and more.
“We’re doing garlic for the first time and that will be exciting.”
She is pleased to discover a new crop that her customers have a passion for - flowers.
“Flowers are a big thing. People like to come out and take photos with them.”
Penelope, 8, of Fort Worth, picks tulips as her grand parents, Bob and Susan Randolph, of Arlington watch.
Growing continues. In the fall, Storm Farms will have eatable pumpkins, squash is available.
This year she planted 30,000 tulips and daffodils and is looking forward to having the 50,000 strawberry plants producing till June. But to let the new berries ripen, the farm is only open on weekends. Check her Facebook page, Storm Farms (yes, farms not just farm) and her webpage.
This year she planted 30,000 tulips and daffodils and is looking forward to having the 50,000 strawberry plants producing till June.
Does she ever get to finally relax in the winter? Not really. She has started selling Christmas Trees and the tulips and daffodils need to be planted between Thanksgiving and Christmas to start blooming in February and then the onions need watering in January.
“It shocks me how little time people spend outdoors,” she says. “And how little people know about plants and food. We bring the farm to you.”
About: Pick your own farm, known for its strawberries. Call ahead to see what's ripe.
Where: 3010 South Bowen Rd, Arlington
Hours: Monday thru Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
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