WASHINGTON — Nothing kicks off summer quite like a basket full of freshly picked berries. (Can’t you just smell the pies and crumbles baking in the oven?) And in the D.C. area, there are plenty of pick-your-own farms and orchards to satisfy that seasonal experience.
D.C.-based travel and parenting writer
Guiomar Ochoa shares some of her favorites:
Conveniently located off Interstate 270 in Germantown, Maryland, is Butler’s Orchard, a popular destination in the fall for apples, pumpkins and Christmas trees. But mid-May through June, it’s all about the strawberries.
D.C.-based travel and parenting writer Guiomar Ochoa said Butler’s is especially great for school field trips, as she discovered on a recent outing with her son’s class. Kids can learn how food is grown (surprise: it doesn’t come from the supermarket), how honey is made and more.
In mid-June, black raspberries, tart cherries and sugar-snap peas will be ready to pick. July and August usher in blueberries, blackberries and red raspberries.
(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
(AP/Carolyn Kaster) Butler’s Orchard
Elkton, Maryland, is home to Milburn Orchards, which opens for pick-your-own fruit in June when tart cherries are ripe and ready.
If your fruit-picking party includes little kids with short attention spans, Ochoa said Milburn’s Big Backyard play area is perfect for getting the wiggles out. In the mood for a festival? Summer’s cherry, blueberry, blackberry, peach and raspberry harvest parties (all separate events) start with a celebratory pancake breakfast.
(Associated Press/Morry Gash)
(ASSOCIATED PRESS/Morry Gash) Milburn Orchards
“This place is best known for its apple picking, but in the last couple of years, they’ve also done pick-your-own summer fruits,” Ochoa said.
Entrance into the Thurmont, Maryland, pick-your-own orchard ($2) includes a wagon ride. During the summer, black raspberries, dark sweet cherries and blueberries are available. Come September, apple season starts back up.
There’s also a bakery on site.
(AP/Robert F. Bukaty)
(AP/Robert F. Bukaty) Catoctin Mountain Orchard
About an hour from Northern Virginia is Mackintosh Farm in Berryville, Virginia. Ochoa said they have a pick-your-own section of the farm that includes all different kinds of fruits and vegetables.
“And they’re pretty close to the Shenandoah Valley, so it’s just a really pretty area to have a picnic and just relax if you want to get out of the city,” she said.
(AP/Gerry Broome) Mackintosh Fruit Farm
Attention all strawberry aficionados: If you are looking for an authentic picking experience, Wegmeyer is the place to go. The website provides daily updates on picking conditions and lets visitors know which fields have the best berries.
If you prefer to bypass the picking and go straight for the eating, Wegmeyer sells its already picked produce on site.
“So if there’s a temper tantrum going on, you can always just duck and go to their farmers markets, and I know so many of us have dealt with that,” Ochoa said.
(AP/Carolyn Kaster) Wegmeyer Farms
Great Country Farms is another spot packed with play areas and activities for families with young kids. Visitors can tour the farm on a wagon ride, meander through mazes and, of course, pick fresh fruit.
“They have festivals throughout the summer; they have live music, pie-eating contests, and just tons of different you-pick experiences that you can go to throughout the entire summer,” Ochoa said.
(AP/Gerry Broome) Great Country Farms
Just “a bit further outside” the DMV is Southern Comfort Berry Farm in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. Ochoa said the farm has more than 9,000 strawberry plants. There are also horses, donkeys and other farm animals.
Southern Comfort Berry Farm
Visitors will find plenty of veggies, plums and cherries at Crooked Run Orchard in Purcellville, Virginia. In the summer, expect summer apples, peaches, blackberries, gooseberries, cherries and lots of herbs.
(AP Photo/Dean Fosdick)
(ASSOCIATED PRESS/DEAN FOSDICK) Crooked Run Orchard
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