If you’ve got a picky eater at home, having him or her help pick veggies—and work up a hearty appetite while doing so—may be the fix you need. Visiting the New York City area’s best u-pick vegetable spots is a great way to get everyone outdoors and experience “farm-to-your-table” is all about. Following are six sensational farms where you can collect your own crops and variously ride ponies, pet and feed animals, find your way through a maize maze, picnic, and generally stock up on homemade treats.
photo by Lacy R. via Yelp
It is important to call before you visit to check availability, but most farms are open daily and have crops ripe for the picking from now and into November. )Most also have strict no-pet policies so be sure to inquire ahead if you were thinking of bringing Snoopy.)
Founded over a century ago by Henry Morgenthau Jr., Fishkill Farms has an unusual claim to fame among the region’s u-pick veggie spots: Franklin D. Roosevelt, who lived in nearby Hyde Park and used to frequent the farm, appointed Morgenthau chairman of the Farm Credit Administration—a position from whence he saved many family farms from foreclosure.
photo: via Fishkill Farms Facebook page
Today Fishkill is committed to good stewardship of the land, growing vegetables without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. The farm also uses an integrated pest management system to minimize chemical inputs in its orchard. In addition to 40 acres of apples, Fishkill has 20 acres of vegetable gardens including tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, string beans, three types of kale, lettuce, cucumbers, peppers, eggplants, summer squash, and herbs. There are additional orchards for pick-your-own peaches, nectarines, black currants, cherries and pumpkins.
9 Fishkill Farm Rd.
Hopewell JCT, Ny
Daily, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Lawrence Farms Orchards
More than a farm, the family-owned Lawrence Farms Orchards is a trip back to simpler times and a bygone era. In addition to u-pick fruits and vegetables, Lawrence Farms features a Little Village—complete with wooden houses and interior furniture—that is reminiscent of an old-fashioned New England farm town. Chickens, goats, swans, ducks, and a hay-bale maze round out the entertainment for little kids. On weekends, the whole family can enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride and every day you can indulge in homemade ice cream, cider donuts, and other treats.
photo: Lawrence Farms Orchards
But of course you’re there for the vegetables, right? Those include sweet corn, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, greens, beans, cabbage, broccoli, eggplant, pumpkins, winter squash, and gourds. If you have a hankering for peaches, a range of apples, plums, pears, raspberries and grapes, you can find them too!
306 Frozen Ridge Rd.
Hilltop Hanover Farm and Environmental Center
Built on a former dairy farm that dates back to the 1600s, Hilltop Hanover Farm and Environmental Center is a working crop farm and environmental education facility that has demonstration models for backyard farming, animal management, rainwater harvesting, organic composting, and green-roof technology. It might go without saying that such a site grows its vegetables and flowers without pesticides, herbicides, or synthesized fertilizers. It also uses sustainable farming practices, such as crop rotation and water conservation through drip irrigation and mulching.
On Saturdays only through November, Hilltop’s vegetable fields are open for u-pick veggies such as carrots, eggplant, flowers, herbs, onions, peas, peppers, pumpkins, and tomatoes. The store also sells honey from the farm’s own bee hives, syrup from its own Maple trees, and fresh eggs. Visitors are also encouraged to hike the farm’s 3.5 miles of woodland trails and bring a picnic to enjoy on the scenic property, and of course anyone can peruse the farmer’s blog for delicious recipes for all seasonable vegetable needs.
1271 Hanover Street
Yorktown Heights, NY 10598
Located on the idyllic North Fork, the fourth-generation Lewin Farms calls itself the first u-pick vegetable destination on Long Island. Today it rounds out its spring and fall harvest seasons with pick-your-own Christmas trees in winter. Each fall the farm also features a gigantic maize maze with a new design. The one for 2016 has been cut and is ready to be unveiled in September! Meanwhile, u-pick tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant are in season, along with apples, and the farm stand (a misnomer: it’s a substantial store!) has a large selection of produce from Lewin and beyond, as well as specialty items such as homemade horseradish and dried flower bouquets.
photo by Rich F. via Yelp
812 Sound Ave.
Daily, 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.; closed Tuesdays
Pochuck Valley Farm
They don’t call it the Garden State for nothing, and here to prove it is the Pochuck Valley Farm. Celebrating its 104th anniversary this year, Harry Vance, the owner, can personally relate to thrill kids experience when picking their own veggies. He has been working on the farm since he was 14 years old! Veggies on tap now include tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, and yellow squash. Plums, apples, pumpkins, and pears round out the seasonal fruits.
photo via: NorthJersey.com
The family-run store, situated in the Old North Vernon Methodist Church that was built in 1863, is open all year starting at 6 am and includes a deli, bakery, and joe that brings the locals from miles around. It also sells all-natural Pochuck Valley pork and chicken, maple syrup, local honey, mums, and starting September 15, its own pressed apple cider.
962 Rt. 517 (McAfee Glenwood Rd.)
As if picking your own local produce isn’t environmentally friendly enough, a visit to Alstede Farms enables you to reduce your carbon footprint even further. On weekends, take New Jersey Transit (departing at 10:11 am or 11:11 am) to the Gladstone Station and be picked up by the free Historic Chester Courtesy Coach that takes you to the farm. The coach makes return trips for day trippers to catch the 5:30 pm or 6:30 pm back to the city. The ride is 114 minutes so pack books and games and settle in to enjoy the view. (The drive is about an hour and ten minutes.)
photo by Mike P. via Yelp
Fill your fall cornucopia with u-pick sweet corn, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes. Fruits include cantaloupe, Asian pears, peaches, nectarines, blackberries, raspberries, elderberries, and pumpkins. The substantial farm store also sells dairy products, eggs, homemade baked goods including quiches, and of course fresh fruits and vegetables. For the kids, there are pony and wagon train rides, a moon bounce, and a corn maze. While the fall harvest winds down sometime in November, Alstede Farms is open all year so visitors can come feed the horses, goats, sheep, rabbits, and donkeys. Founded by Farmer Kurt in 1982, it is one of the newer farms on the scene but still, it’s got history: three generations of the family are pitching in to make it run.
1 Alstede Farms Ln.
(If using GPS or mobile devices please note: the farm is NOT located at 1 Farm Lane, Chester NJ)
Have you picked your own veggies at a nearby farm with the family? Tell us where in the comments!
— Cheryl deJong-Lambert