The 2012 strawberry picking season has officially begun! As of this week, just about all area farms offering pick-your-own opportunities will be open to visitors. And I keep hearing how the unusually warm winter and early spring made for an extra bountiful crop this year. Our experience at Schlagel Farms today definitely supported that theory — the berries were just as abundant as they were gorgeous. If you’re planning to hit the fields for some picking of your own, here’s the scoop on the berry season at several local farms (most of it duplicated from last year, but with updated info). And if you have a favorite farm that isn’t on this list, 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 for a couple of weeks, and as of today the pickings are excellent! (We’ve got several large bowlfuls to prove it.)While there, you can also purchase bedded plants grown in their greenhouse. And you no longer have to worry about hitting the ATM before going—they started accepting credit cards (everything but AmEx) last year. Schlagel’s is open for picking from 8am – 7pm seven days a week.
Strawberry season begins here on May 14 with what they call “seek and find” picking, but they expect a rapid increase in ripeness. Along with berry picking, there are animals to visit — goats, pigs, and chickens are some of the farm’s bestial residents. And Homestead scores high on aesthetics — 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.
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. The weekend of May 19-20 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 opened their strawberry fields to the public this past weekend, and they claim the early and warm spring brought their best crop in years. 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 new trail that winds through the fields and woods of the farm. Open daily from 8am – 6pm.
Westmoreland Berry Farm
Their strawberries have been ripe for the picking since this past weekend, and they expect them to be available for another few of weeks. Right now, you can pick your own on Saturdays and Sundays, but check back soon to see if weekdays open, too. On weekends a hay wagon transports 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.
About an hour’s drive from DC in Howard County, Larriland Farms has gotten really good reviews on Yelp for both it’s produce and beauty. The pick-your-own season begins with strawberries, and it expected to start around May 17-20 — as it gets closer, call or check online to confirm the opening date. 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, closed Mondays (but open Memorial day 9am – 1pm).
If you want to celebrate strawberry season, head to Huber’s Farm May 19-20 for an Old Fashioned Strawberry Festival. The farm is kicking off the start of the season with a weekend of fun—the Strawberry Express Hayride, a moon bounce, face painting, strawberry shortcake, and more. The festival will run from 12-5pm both days. The berries will be ready for picking in a couple of weeks along with many other spring veggies. Hours will be from 9am – 6pm seven days a week.
The farm might be best known for it’s Halloween and Easter extravaganzas, but they have a bounty of great crops, too. Their strawberry season officially starts May 14, and the fields will be open to visitors everyday. During strawberry season their hours are 8am – 6pm during the week, and 8am – 5pm on weekends.
Across the river in Fauquier County, VA, Hollin Farms kicked off strawberry picking this past weekend and expect it to last through mid June. Hours are 9am – 5pm, 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.