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Come get your fresh Skagit Valley strawberries

It's the height of the season for fresh strawberries, an excellent reason to come to the Skagit Valley and pick up a half-flat (or more) of these luscious fruits. You'll see roadside stands around the valley, and there are u-pick fields as well.

Seasonal country markets such as Sakuma Bros., Snow Goose Produce and Schuh Farms are good places to stop as well — and there are plenty of farmers markets.

While you can get strawberries all through the summer, this is prime time for Northwest varieties such as Shuksan, Puget Reliance and Hood. Load up and enjoy.

Your berries were likely picked the day before, or perhaps that morning, so they'll be as fresh as can be for your smoothies, shakes, pie, shortcakes — and just eating out of hand.

Don't wash them until you are ready to use them, and keep the caps on until they are rinsed. (You can freeze any berries you don't eat in a couple of days or make into jam.)

Make you plans now, and remember the I-5 bridge has reopened, so there are no traffic worries. The season isn't that long, and you'll want to come back in early July when raspberries appear, and then again later in the month when the blueberries come on.