Wow, can you believe that it’s berry-picking season already? We love to go berry picking. My personal favorite is raspberries, which come later, but we kick off the season with strawberries. This season, due to the crazy weather, there are strawberries at slightly different times than the usual. Berry picking isn’t like going to the supermarket: it’s best to call ahead, because conditions change quickly–either because a ton of people just came to pick the place bare or because the weather has made estimates iffy. If you want to go in the next day or two and I’ve told you that picking is available now or beginning tomorrow, you’re safe. Otherwise, call.
If you have never, ever gone picking, here are my suggestions for more fun:
- Pick the chilliest day possible, because it always feels like you’re baking in the sun. Sunscreen and hats are good–put on ahead so that you don’t get the berries sunscreen-nasty. If you’re a stay-at-home parent, this is your chance to enjoy an activity that will definitely be quieter on a weekday than on the weekend. Fabulous, right? Who needs that extra paycheck?
- Bring some extra baskets or plastic bags. All places will provide containers, but some make you pay for the container itself separately. If you’re going with multiple children and you don’t want to buy multiple quarts of berries, it’s nice to have extra containers because of course every child wants to hold their own container. Come to think of it, as containers get full, dump them into one that sits on the ground. Because of course your child will drop the whole thing as soon as it’s completely full.
- Bring a blanket or towel to sit on, snacks, water, and maybe a couple of books. Because someone will be sick and tired of picking while someone else will still be going crazy. A picnic lunch might be nice, too.
- Spend the drive reminding your child(ren) of all the “rules” because it will be difficult to focus once you get there. Nice reminders: strawberries should be red. Bees won’t bother you if you don’t bother them, so don’t swat. Don’t eat the berries until they’re home and washed. Or, don’t eat the berries without checking with Mom first. Or, eat one berry for every ten picked. Or, don’t obviously smear your entire face with berries directly in front of someone who works at the farm. Seriously, some berry-eating along the way is part of the charm, but you might think about throwing an extra buck or two in when you pay at the end. Because we all want to support local farms, right?
- The berries won’t last long, probably because everyone will eat them. But if you have extras, they won’t stay nice for long. It’s simplest to freeze. Making a little tart is a fun project, too. If you are a complete non-cook (or if you want to cede control of the project to small children), you can just wing it with some prepared pie crust and maybe some powdered sugar or whipped cream in a can. I promise that it won’t suck.
Here are some berry-picking places that I found. Many of these spots have links to their own websites; when I couldn’t find a website, I included the full contact information instead. I’ve been to Bowman and Indian Ladder–both have much more than just picking to offer and are fun destinations if you’ve never visited.
- Altamont Orchards: Strawberry picking starts June 3rd. Click link for details.
- Ariel’s Farm: They appeared in Saturday’s Gazette saying that they’re already doing you-pick strawberries. John & Catherine Ariel, 194 Northern Pines Rd., Gansevoort, NY 12831. 584-2189.
- Best Berry Farm: I called and the machine message said that they’re expecting the berries to be ready around June 10th. You should call again before going. 1078 Best Road Box 142 B, East Greenbush, NY 12061. 518-286-0607.
- Bowman Orchards: Strawberry picking starts June 3rd. They have tons of other picking later in the season, too.
- Buhrmaster Farm: Route 50, Scotia, NY 12302. 518-399-5931. They start their you-pick in June. A reader commented: “We had an awful experience at Buhrmaster. They were clearly not pleased to have children there and the staff followed us closely to reprimand anyone who might accidentally step on a plant or switch rows.” This reader says she’s had good experiences at Altamont & Indian Ladder, so it’s not like she’s just got extra naughty children.
- Charlton Fruit Farm: They’ve reported that they don’t have enough berries for you-pick this season because of crop rotations. I hear it’s lovely, though.
- Goold Orchards: Strawberries should be ready soon, but they weren’t sure when yet. They also have ever-bearing strawberries that will be available in August and September.
- Indian Ladder Farms: Strawberries are ready and cost $2.95/quart. They have tons of other picking later in the season, too. Click link for details, including a pick-your-own hotline.
- Liberty Ridge Farm: No strawberries, but they’ll have blueberries and raspberries starting in mid-July and August, respectively.
- Scotch Ridge Berry Farm: 5092 Scotch Ridge Road, Duanesburg, NY. 518-895-2701. They will have berries that tend to ripen in mid-June, as well as ever-bearing strawberries that ripen in August.
- Stone Wall Hill Farm: Picked strawberries are available now, you-pick generally begins in mid-June.
I found many of these on the NYFarms! site and the Pick Your Own site. There was also a recent article in the Daily Gazette–which I don’t link to because they’ll only let you read it if you pay for a subscription, anyway. Still bitter. You know, I realized after practically finishing this that I should have checked prices for those places that I called. Alas, I didn’t, and I have to get working on this weekend’s post. Because this weekend is ridiculously busy. Seriously: I hope you’re staying local, because there’s a ton to do. If you visit any of these spots, I’d love to hear about prices and/or attitudes toward children. Because we all know that some farms (ahem! I’m talking to you, Country Gardens on Consaul Road!) are not too kid-friendly.
Enjoy the sweet, sweet harvest!