In Texas, the pick-your-own season starts early in the spring and ends somewhere around mid-July—if we’re lucky! It just gets so hot that our produce growing season is ending right around the time some of you all are just getting yours going. We do get a fall planting season—but that’s another topic for a different day!
Back in March, the kids and I made a visit to a local strawberry farm to pick berries. We went during the day over spring break and it was busy but there were TONS of berries to pick! I think we got more than 15 pounds. And for about the last five years we’ve had a tradition of picking locally grown blueberries that are pesticide free. And last year we picked blackberries. They were HUGE. Like more than an inch in diameter huge! We didn’t go to that farm this year because we still have blackberries in the freezer that need to be used up (we picked a lot).
Six Things To Love About Pick-Your-Own Outings
• It’s Fun to Pick Your Own Food-And Good For You. Pick-Your-Own farms are a great family outing that gets everyone moving (good for you) and you’ll have lots more fruits and veggies to eat when you get home (also good for you!) The bonus? When you didn’t have to do any of the planting and tending it’s even more fun because you get to enjoy all the benefits without all the work.
• Picky Eaters Are Often More Willing to Try a New Fruit or Vegetable. In my experience, picky eaters are more likely try something new when they’ve had the fun time picking it!
• Keeps It Local. You can feel good knowing you’re purchasing locally grown food AND supporting your local economy.
• It’s Less Expensive—Sometimes. Many times the prices are comparable to what you’d pay in the grocery store or less! Up until this year, we’ve only paid $1.50/pound for blueberries. This year the price went up—to $2/pound. Not too shabby and still way cheaper than the grocery store. Last year we picked blackberries. They were $3/pound, so a little on the pricier size. But considering they were nearly an inch in diameter and SO juicy (and of course, locally grown and also pesticide free), it was worth it!
• It’s a One Stop Farmer’s Market Shop. Some of the pick-your-own farms also have farmers markets where they sell produce that they’ve grown themselves or grown by other area farmers. A couple of the pick-your-own farms we visit also have homemade jams and other canned items made by the farmers or other locals.
• You’ll Get to Really Know Where Your Food Comes From. Most of the farmers, owners and other employees are usually super friendly. I have found that most of them love to chat to you about all things growing in their garden and field.
Tips For Planning Your Own Pick-Your-Own Outing:
• Check the Farm’s Website for Updates. They will usually have picking reports like when the picking season opens, if the fruit is ripe or to let you know if the day before you plan to come was a heavy picking day and what to expect.
• Go early. Not only will it be cooler, you’ll have better luck at finding ripe fruits and vegetables that have not already been picked out by someone before you.
• Bring a cooler. In Texas it is HOT during much of our picking season. Oftentimes, we don’t go straight home.
• Have a Plan For Your Produce. When you get home, plan to bag up your produce, label and put in the freezer. Or make some homemade jam or cook up something delicious with your fresh-picked goodies.
To find a Pick-Your-Own Farm near you, check out this website. What’s your favorite fruit or veggie to pick?