Drive through the American countryside during the summer and fall, and you’ll see a bevy of roadside signs boasting “PICK YOUR OWN FRUIT!” for a fraction of the usual grocery store price. Picking your own fruit is joyful work, a sweet task that is especially popular with the younger set. Not only can you show the kids exactly where their fruit comes from, you can also give them a sense of the work and effort involved in food production, as you spend the next two days cooking, baking, freezing and canning the piles of fruit that you picked.
What doesn’t make fruit picking fun are pesticides; you certainly don’t want your children handling or eating fruit that has been sprayed down royally with poisons. Head to the following organic farms to pick your favorite fruits of the season.
Please note that many farms are cash only, and although most provide baskets for picking, you might want to bring your own just in case. Fruit picking is a seasonal affair that is subject to the whims of the weather, so be sure to call ahead before you drive to confirm that the fruit you are looking for is available to pick.
Swantonberry Farm: Located just a short drive from San Francisco, this organic farm hosts u-pick fun for strawberries, olallieberries and blackberries in the summer and kiwi fruit in the winter. Pick strawberries at 25 Swanton Road in Davenport, and find kiwis, olallieberries and blackberries at 640 Highway 1 in Pescadero. What the hell is an olallieberry, you ask? It’s a tasty cross between a loganberry, blackberry and raspberry.
Webb Ranch: Also situated in central California, this certified organic farm offers pick-your-own blackberries, blueberries, loganberries and boysenberries in season. In addition to the fields of berries, they have an awesome farmers market with a huge selection of produce, special holiday events and pony rides for the kids. Webb Ranch is located at 2720 Alpine Road in Portola Valley.
Enos Family Farms: Pick organic cherries in Brentwood, California. Located at the corner of Marsh Creek Road and Walnut Boulevard, this orchard offers three varieties of organic cherries for you to pick: Rainier, Lapin and Sweetheart. The price is right: only $3.50 per pound. You’ll also find a farm stand, with hay bale rides and pumpkin-picking in the fall.
Adams Acres: Organic apples make the best pies! Pick your own organic apples at Adams Acres in upstate New York for $1.25 per pound. Located at 7047 Sevier Road in Jamesville, this small orchard is one of the only farms using organic methods in the state. Apple varieties to choose from include Honeycrisp, Liberty, Spartan, Dayton and Pricilla.
Morris Farm: This USDA certified organic farm can be found at 110 Slebodnik Road in Irwin, Pennsylvania. Morris Farm doesn’t just let you pick berries or fruit – you can pick a whole week’s worth of meals in their fields. Options include numerous varieties of tomatoes, beans, peppers, beets, chard, squash, herbs, potatoes, kale, cucumber and more.
image by sandburchick