Where To Pick Your Own Berries
By Laura Olson
Finishing off the final jar of last year’s strawberry jam reminded me that strawberry-picking season has arrived. What could be fresher than fruit that you’ve picked yourself, straight from the field? Take a day to get out of the city and visit one of the many nearby farms that offer pick-your-own produce.
If you get carried away and pick more than you can eat, berries freeze beautifully. I love using frozen berries in fruit smoothies. Also, making freezer jam is easier than it sounds — you only need fruit, sugar and pectin. Pectin comes in a few varieties that you can pick up at the supermarket and most have easy jam-making directions on the back.
Or make a batch of Metrocurean's Simple Strawberry Jam, meant to be stored in the fridge and eaten within a few weeks.
The following farms are all only about an hour outside of DC and offer free admission to their fields. The websites have additional information about when to pick and what is available. Always remember to call first to make sure the farm will be open and that the pickings are good. Sometimes near the end of the season the fields are picked clean.
Farms in Maryland
• Butler’s Orchard
22200 Davis Mill Rd., Germantown, Md.
Just north of DC in Montgomery County, Butler’s Orchard has a great selection of pick-your-own produce including strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and more. They even have a pick-your-own flower garden. While there, be sure to check out their market which has a wider selection of fresh fruits and vegetables and local honey. Butler’s also has a bakery – great if you want to take a freshly baked berry pie home (you can even call order in advance).
• Homestead Farm
15604 Sugarland Rd., Poolesville, Md.
Also in Montgomery County, Homestead Farm offers pick-your-own strawberries, blackberries and other fruit. They also have a market open daily to sell assorted, seasonal vegetables.
• Mayne’s Tree Farm
3420 Buckeystown Pike, Buckeystown, Md.
Mayne’s is known for its Christmas trees, but also offers pick-your-own strawberries. A little further north of DC, Mayne’s takes you just past Sugarloaf Mountain where you can spend the rest of your day hiking.
Farms in Virginia
• Hartland Farm and Orchard
306 4 Hartland Lane, Markham, Va.
Hartland Orchard is a family run pick-your-own farm just about an hour west of DC. They offer pick-your-own strawberries from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day and blueberries, raspberries and more will come later in the season.
• Hollin Farms
1410 Snowden Rd., Delaplane, Va.
Hollin’s offers a large variety of pick-your-own fruit and vegetables, beginning with strawberries and including raspberries and blackberries. The farm also specializes in cattle and offers pastured, free-range natural angus beef and natural pastured pork that you can order in advance (pick up is in Stephens City, about 30 minutes away from the farm). Visit Hollin Farms' website for more details.
• Wegmeyer Farms
38299 Hughesville Rd., Hamilton, Va.
Wegmeyer Farms offers pick-your-own strawberries and blackberries in the spring and early summer and raspberries in the fall. For the pick-your-own enthusiast, Wegmeyer’s even offers PYO Club memberships, which include priority picking, a small discount on pickings and other benefits.
Have a favorite pick-your-own farm? Let us know about it in the comments.
Laura Olson is a journalism student at American University in Washington, DC. Born and raised in Rockville, Md., she grew up learning about and loving the variety that DC has to offer. Laura enjoys cooking for friends and family at home and exploring the food scene downtown.