One of the season’s most anticipated activities has begun, and it’s only going to get better. Strawberry picking has started at several local farms, and many more will open their fields to the public over the next couple of weeks. You can also celebrate the season at a few strawberry festivals taking place this coming weekend.
As mentioned in last year’s post about the same topic, I love going out to the farm and picking produce with the kids. The slow pace and open space are a nice change from the hubbub and confines of the city. It’s a fun, active way for the kids to see where their food comes from. And then there’s the obvious: the enjoyment continues with a basketful of delicious hand-picked berries at home.
So, I confess: Much of this list of local farms offering pick-your-own strawberry opportunities has been regurgitated from last year. But all the vital info has been updated, plus a few farms have been added to the mix. All you have to do is take your pick (pun intended). Happy Picking!
Less than 20 miles from the city in Waldorf, Md, Schlagel Farms is one of the most 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 their hotline currently says the pickings ” remain excellent.” While there, you can also purchase other produce and plants grown in their greenhouse. And you no longer have to worry about hitting the ATM before going—they now accept credit cards, too. Schlagel’s is open for picking from 8am – 7pm seven days a week.
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 28-29 is the Strawberry Jubilee U-Pick Festival 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/ages 3-10, $10/ages 11 and up (kids under 2 are free) on weekdays, and $10/everyone on festival weekends. Open daily 9am- 6pm.
Strawberry season doesn’t begin here until next week, but given the consistently good quality of its pick-your-own produce, the wait is sure to be worth it. And Homestead scores just as high on aesthetics as it does on its crops—the lovely pastoral setting in Montgomery County makes you feel like you’re way more than 20 miles from the city. The farm opens when their strawberry season begins–call the hotline at 301.977.3761 or check the website for updates (I will also update here). They will be open seven days a week from 9:30am – 6pm, though pick-your-own ends at 5:30. 5/20 UPDATE: Homestead is open for the season, and strawberries ar ready for picking!
Mackintosh Fruit Farm
The family-owned farm in the Shenandoah Valley opened their strawberry fields to the public last week, and there is still plenty of time to reap the fruits. The annual Strawberry Festival will take place on Saturday, May 21. 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.
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 around May 27—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).
Westmoreland Berry Farm
Their strawberries have been ripe for the picking since Mother’s Day, and they expect them to be available for another couple of weeks. The hour or so drive from DC to Oak Grove, Va, apparently is worth it, as there’s much more to do there than gather fruit. A goat walk is a fun sight for kids, and the adjoining Voorhees Nature Preserve contains trails, a boardwalk spanning over wetlands, bird and wildlife sightings, and scenic views.
If you want to celebrate strawberry season, head to Huber’s Farm May 21-22 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. They are anticipating the strawberry season to begin May 25, but it wouldn’t hurt to call ahead before you go to make sure the pickings are ready—a recorded message is constantly updated. During strawberry season their hours are 8am – 6pm during the week, and 8am – 5pm on weekends. 5/21 UPDATE: Butler’s is open for the season, though pickings are currently “scattered,” so be sure to call ahead.
Across the river in Fauquier County, VA, Hollin Farms opens their strawberry picking season the weekend of May 21-22 and expects 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.