Pick Your Own
Whether you are seeking scrumptious strawberries to top your shortcake or pursuing the perfect peaches for your cobbler, there’s just nothing better than spending time in nature, picking and choosing your own fruits, fresh from the earth.
The experience of picking your own fruits is not only laced with a healthy dose of pure Americana and nostalgia; the cost can also take you back to years gone by because prices of picked usually beat packaged at checkout.
And for city slickers, the novelty of bringing fruit directing from the dirt, the bush or the vine far outweighs the drive time it may take to escape the urban landscape.
That’s exactly why 435 Magazine searched for pick-your-own orchards and farms within an hour’s drive of the metro. No matter which way you slice it, can it, cook it or freeze it, fresh-picked produce just tastes better.
So load up the family and get back to nature. Your taste buds will thank you.
North of the River:
You pick: Apples
A small family farm and orchard located in the foothills of the Missouri River just south of Platte City, Mo. Alldredge Orchards offers an apple-picking season to the public in the fall. Alldredge Orchards also grows peaches, which they sell at farmers markets throughout the summer.
10455 Hwy. N, Platte City, Mo.
Duncan’s Berry Farm
You pick: Blueberries & blackberries
Enjoy decadent blueberries and blackberries while taking in the beautiful surroundings at Duncan’s Berry Farm in Smithville, Mo. Due to its small size, Duncan’s only offers the you-pick option on Saturdays at 8 a.m. within season and by appointment only.
908 County Rd. F, Smithville, Mo.
* Find Duncan's on Facebook
Weston Red Barn Farm
You pick: Blackberries & apples
Blackberry-picking season runs until the end of July at Weston’s Red Barn Farm. Thornless blackberry bushes offer ample fresh, juicy blackberries ripe for the picking. Apple-picking season begins at the end of August and runs through the second week of September, followed by the opening of the farm’s famed pumpkin patch come fall.
16300 Wilkerson Rd., Weston, Mo.
You pick: Strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, peaches & apples
More than a century old, Schweizer Orchards opens each year in late May with prime strawberry-picking season and closes in late fall with the apple harvest. The orchard offers varieties of berries and yellow and white peaches but specializes in a great assortment of apples.
5455 S.E. State Rte. FF, St. Joseph, Mo.
Spanish Garden Berry Farm
You pick: blackberries, aronia berries, cucumbers, melons, raspberries, peppers & tomatoes
Open daily during prime picking seasons, Spanish Garden Berry Farm is ever-expanding to include a large variety of fruits and vegetable, including the aronia berry, which is loaded with antioxidants. For updates on which fruits and vegetables are currently in picking season or to schedule a time to pick, call ahead.
8740 92 Hwy., Platte City, Mo.
Cider Hill Family Orchard
You pick: Apples
Boasting more than 900 apple trees on 25 acres, Cider Hill Family Orchard is ripe with 18 different kinds of apples that you can pick yourself. Apple season at Cider Hill begins in late July and runs through early November. Cider Hill encourages visitors to take in the full orchard experience and plan to stay for the day. Apples are sold by the bag, and prices vary from $8 to $26 a bag.
3341 N. 139 St., Kansas City, Kan.
You pick: Strawberries, blackberries & peaches
Gieringers Orchard opened in the spring of 2001 with a peach harvest and has since grown to include blackberries, strawberries and miscellaneous other produce. You-pick season opens for strawberries in late May, followed by blackberries and peaches in July. Gieringers also sell their produce at local farmers markets in Lawrence and Overland Park.
39675 W. 183rd St., Edgerton, Kan.
Lawson Brothers Farm
You pick: Blackberries, raspberries & strawberries
Make the trip to this historic Douglas County farm nestled in the Vinland Valley, just 12 miles southeast of Lawrence, Kan. During picking season, Lawson Brothers Farm is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and weekends 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For current picking conditions, call ahead.
Call for directions
Wagon Wheel Orchard
You pick: Apples, cherries, plums, pears & peaches
Specializing in variety, Wagon Wheel Orchard prides itself on housing more than 1,000 species of fruit-bearing trees. With plenty of fruit to pick, Wagon Wheel Orchards’ picking season starts early with cherries in June and ends with apples in the fall.
15380 Edgerton Rd., Gardner, Kan.
Wohletz Farm Fresh
You Pick: Strawberries, tomatoes, potatoes & onions
Specializing in their vast rows of strawberry plants, Wohletz Farm Fresh plants more than 32,000 strawberry plants annually using the “plasticulture” method, which incorporates agricultural plastics into growing crops, making for an increased growing season, reduced insect infestation and decreased water loss. In addition, a visit to Wohletz Farm Fresh offers an opportunity to dig up your own potatoes or pull your own onions as well as to tug your own red, ripe tomatoes off the vine.
1831 N. 1100 Rd., Lawrence, Kan.
You pick: apricots, blackberries, blueberries, peaches, raspberries & apples
Grimm’s Gardens is home to many varieties of homegrown fruit patches, which are pollinated by Grimm’s own honeybees and bumblebees. As a bonus, you can buy honey. Grimm’s Gardens is open Monday through Saturday.
2991 Goldfinch Rd., Hiawatha, Kan.
The Berry Patch
You pick: Blueberries & blackberries
Located just south of Kansas City, The Berry Patch is Missouri’s largest grower of blueberries. A day at The Berry Patch gives visitors the inspiration — and recipes — to go home and create delicious treats with their fresh blueberry harvest. For motivation, the Berry Patch Country Store serves up delicious berry pies, cobblers, muffins and more.
22509 State Line Rd., Cleveland, Mo.
You pick: Blackberries
About two miles north of Buckner, Mo., on Kansas City’s eastern edge, Sibley Orchards specializes in you-pick blackberries, with the picking season starting at the end of June and running until the middle of August.
3717 Blue Mills Rd., Sibley, Mo.
John & Linda’s Berry Farm
You pick: strawberries, blackberries, peaches, apples, cherries, pears & plums
If you are looking for a low-key excursion with a personal touch, here’s the farm for you. A quaint and quiet operation, John & Linda’s White’s farm is home to a humble five acres of strawberry and blackberry patches as well as fruit trees ripe for the picking within season. Call ahead to schedule; picking is by appointment only.
2428 Texas Prairie Road, Bates City, Mo.
When Will It Be Ripe?
• Apples — August, September
• Blueberries — June, July, August
• Blackberries — July, August
• Cherries — June
• Peaches — August
• Pears — August, September
• Strawberries — May, June
• Fall Blackberries — August, September, October
• Fall Raspberries — August, September, October
Perfect Your Pick
To make the most out of your pick-your-own experience:
· Always call ahead to make sure your chosen farm is open and ripe for the picking.
· Don’t rely solely on your GPS. Some of these farms are a bit off the beaten path, so it doesn’t hurt to get detailed directions when embarking on your road trip. After all, you may not even have cell phone reception once you are on your way. Imagine that.
· Bring containers to carry your fruit with you if necessary. Most farms will let you know ahead of time if they will have containers for you. Regardless, you will want a cooler to carry your harvest home.
· Bring cash. Many farms don’t take credit cards or checks, so plan accordingly.
· Dress properly for fruit picking. Don’t wear your best shoes or clothes, and don’t be afraid of dirt. Dirty hands and faces make for a good photo op.
· Prepare for a day trip by packing snacks, bottled water, moist towelettes, sunscreen and a hat.
· When you arrive, look for the check-in and check-out areas and note whether you will be charged according to weight, volume or fruit count. Ask whether there is a minimum quantity requirement for picking.
· Respect the farm. Be careful not to step on crops or damage plants in the picking process. Ripe fruit doesn’t require more than a gentle tug for picking.
· If you don’t know whether the fruit is ripe, check with the farmers. No one knows fruit like they do, and they will be happy to assist you in choosing fruits that are ready to pick.
· Enjoy the experience. Plan to make a day of your picking and take in what the area has to offer. Make a point to slow down and just enjoy making memories.