The strawberry picking season is off to a slow start this year. Only a couple of the well-known farms have opened their fields so far, while most are usually welcoming the public to reap the harvest by now. The cooler weather delayed the blooms, so it’s taking longer for the berries to ripen. But all of the pick-your-own places will be open eventually, and the upside is that we’ll get to enjoy the fruits — and the fun of picking them — for many weeks to come. Here’s the scoop on the strawberry season at several local farms (most of it duplicated from last year, but with updated info). And I’m always interested to hear about new places, so if you have a favorite farm that isn’t listed, feel free to mention it in the comments. Happy Picking!
Less than 20 miles from DC in Waldorf, Md, Schlagel Farms is one of the more popular pick-your-own berry places in the area with their season often beginning before other area farms. Their fields have been open to the public since early May, despite rumors that they had closed for the season, and they should be open until early June. While there, you can also purchase bedded plants grown in their greenhouse and treat the kids – and yourself! – to ice cream. Schlagel’s is open for picking from 8am – 7pm seven days a week.
Westmoreland Berry Farm
Their strawberries are now ripe for the picking, and they expect them to be available for another couple of weeks (then blackberries come in!). You can pick your own on Saturdays and Sundays, and a hay wagon will transport visitors to the picking fields. A goat walk is a also fun sight for kids. The farm is open 9am – 5pm Monday – Saturday, and 10am – 5pm Sunday.
Just recommended by a KFDC reader, this farm located in the scenic hills near Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Mountains, will open its strawberry fields on May 18. They recommend calling ahead to check on availability of ripe berries, because they expect more customers than ready-to-pick fruit (which makes sense, since we’ve all been anxiously awaiting). Call 540.316.7715 for minute-to-minute info. Hours at the farm are 8am – 6pm.
Great Country Farms
At the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Shenandoah Valley, Great Country offers more than just pick-your-own opportunities. The farm is well known for its big seasonal festivals and fun farm-themed attractions. A hayride takes you out to the picking fields, and kids might spy an emu or goat on the way. Visitors also have access to the barnyard, mazes, a cow train, and jumping pillow. They are opening their u-pick strawberry fields this weekend on May 18, and you can get updates on them via Facebook and Twitter. The weekend of May 25-26 is the annual Strawberry Jubilee with live music, pie eating contests, tart tosses, tasty food, and more. Babies four to nine months can compete in the diaper derby, a crawl to the finish line, to compete for great prizes. Admission is $8/child $10/adult on weekdays, and $10/child $12/adult on festival weekends. Open daily 9am- 6pm.
Mackintosh Fruit Farm
The family-owned farm in the Shenandoah Valley will open their farm to the public on May 25, hopefully with access to their strawberry fields (be sure to check the website or call for an update). Plan on lunch while you’re there — along with fruits and veggies, the farm also offers a variety of menu items prepared fresh every day from their own produce. Walk it all off afterward along a trail that winds through the fields and woods of the farm. Open daily from 8am – 6pm.
Strawberry season in the popular pick-your-own fields opened in late May this year. Along with berry picking, there are animals to visit — goats, pigs, and chickens are some of the farm’s bestial residents. Along with the fun, Homestead also scores high on scenery — the lovely pastoral setting in Montgomery County makes you feel like you’re way more than 20 miles from the city. The farm is open seven days a week from 9:30am – 6pm, though pick-your-own ends at 5:30. You can sign up to receive weekly updates by email, so you can stay up to date on their crops.
About an hour’s drive from DC in Howard County, Larriland Farms always gets great reviews for both it’s produce and beauty. The pick-your-own season opened in early June with strawberries and spinach and is being reported as very good. Larriland employs Integrated Pest Management, meaning pesticides are a last resort, to keep pests below an acceptable level with minimum harmful impact on the environment. Hours are Tuesdays 9am – 8pm, Wednesday to Friday 9am – 6pm, Saturday & Sunday 9am – 5pm.
The farm might be best known for it’s Halloween and Easter extravaganzas, but they have a bounty of great crops, too. As of June 2, strawberry fields will be open to visitors everyday. During strawberry season their hours are 8:30am – 6pm during the week, and 8:30am – 5pm on weekends. Stay updated on their status by following on Facebook and Twitter.
Across the river in Fauquier County, VA, Hollin Farms will kicked off its strawberry picking season on May 29, and it should last several weeks after that. Hours are 9am – 5pm Wednesday through Sunday, and they recommend calling ahead to confirm that picking fields are open. And a special P.S. to meat lovers: they pride themselves on their grass-fed beef.