Even though it was raining, the fields at Thimble Farm on a recent morning were being picked by enthusiatic strawberry aficionados and contented workers.

Sandy Mocarski, a customer from Edgartown, was on her knees out in the field. She's been to Thimble Farm "many times over the years, but this is my first time in the rain. It's peaceful, like a treasure hunt." She planned to use her strawberries for a Father's Day cookout off-Island. "I'm bringing strawberry shortcake for everyone. Thimble Farm is wonderful. It's fabulous to have this place on the Island."

Alba Eber from West Tisbury stood in the drive alongside the strawberry fields and prepared to begin picking. "We come every year," she said. "It's something to do. They're fresh and very tasty. It's very country. I like coming here. It's a yearly ritual." She planned to make strawberry shortcakes and jam.

Summer worker Kim McMillen from Des Moines, Iowa, weighed some strawberries for a customer. "I love it," said Miss McMillen. "This is the best job in the world for the summer. I talk to people all day long, and that's my favorite thing to do." After her work at Thimble Farms is over, she is headed to law school in Fayetteville, Ark.

The career of Thimble Farm owner Bencion Moskow went in the opposite direction: He left law practice to go into strawberries. "My wife and I were lawyers, and we were sick and tired," he said. "We weren't having any fun anymore, and it's a basic rule that if you're unhappy in your work you go find something else to do." The Moskows chose strawberries, he said, because "it's a happy fruit. You never find strawberries at a funeral. You find them at happy occasions like weddings and parties."

Employee housing isn't a problem at Thimble Farm. The farm houses all its workers in modern, well-furnished homes spread across the 40-acre farm. "Housing for the workers on this Island is almost a necessity. We had to put our own up," said Mr. Moskow.

Mr. Moskow has two summer interns from Europe and one Jamaican picker. "Americans don't want to pick and nobody rivals the Jamaicans," he said. Thimble Farm participates in an internship program with Global Outreach and has had Latvians, Lithuanians, Hungarians and Yugoslavs on the summer staff. "We tutor them in our methods and keep them for a year."

Intern Penka Armands, who is from Latvia, remarked: "I like working here. I've never seen a greenhouse like this before in the U.S. because it's a European greenhouse. We planted frozen strawberry plants and it's an interesting planting style." Mr. Armands likes to go to Oak Bluffs during his free time. "The beaches and the people are nice," he said," and so are the speed boats."

Zoltan Szanto, who is from Lithuania, looked up from a tray of herbs and said, "It's a very modern greenhouse. It's very nice. Everyone has been very friendly and helpful."

Ulick Warburton is "the best picker on the face of the earth," said Mr. Moskow of the Jamaican man standing next to a field of strawberries. He has been with Thimble Farms for six years. "I like it very much, especially in the summer," said Mr. Warburton. "I like the fresh air and the sunshine."

One of the farm's best customers is the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury, which is having its tenth annual Strawberry Shortcake Festival tomorrow from 1:30 to 4 p.m. at the new agricultural hall. Church members will be picking nearly 350 pounds of strawberries at the farm and making strawberry shortcakes afterwards. "They're really good," said Bonnie Eldridge, administrative assistant for the church. "All the monies we take will be used by the church for local community needs and charities," said church volunteer Alan Coutinho.

Eric Ogden is an outside manager of the farm. "This season is good," he said, stepping out of a golf cart that is used to get around the farm. "Last year we got a huge rainstorm which flooded the fields pretty badly. There's tons of fruit out there." The farm has 2 1/2 acres of strawberries. "I enjoy the variety of jobs. It's a lot like Christmas. You work the entire year for three weeks, but it's worth it. I enjoy farming -- you can come into work and have a plan, but on a farm that can change in 10 minutes. I like the satisfaction of seeing all your work come up healthy."

Mr. Ogden will be leaving the farm soon to return to his home in Nova Scotia. "I've learned a lot here, and it's definitely something I'm going to take with me. I've told all of my friends that I'm going to have the best strawberries on the block."