Just Ripe: 5 Sweet U-Pick Strawberry Farms
Getting your hands dirty with berry pickin’ is a glorious rite of passage that marks the start of summer. And thanks to our sunny spring days, the berries have arrived early this year. Whether this is your kids’ first time at the berry patch or if you’re looking to enter the DIY hall of fame with dozens of ruby red jam jars gracing your countertop (and Pinterest page!), we’ve rounded up 5 u-pick strawberry farms where your sweeties can pick until their heart’s content.
Good to Know
Picking season arrived early this year and is at its peak right now, so dust off your buckets and try out one (or all!) of these great farms just a short drive from Seattle. Be advised that heirloom berries (which is what you’ll be picking at these farms) are best eaten or processed (frozen or turned into jam) within a day or two of being picked. So plan ahead and invite the neighbors over for some shortcake or smoothies or strawberry pancakes for a summertime feast when you return. We definitely suggest calling ahead or checking websites for day-of confirmation that berry patches are open. All picking dates/times are weather dependent and can change based on availability.
What to Bring:
1. Your own pails or buckets. You can buy buckets at all the farms, but save yourself a few dollars and BYO.
2. Sunscreen and hats. Strawberry patches are in full sun, so be prepared to be out in the heat while you are picking.
3. Wet wipes and a change of clothes (for the kids, and for you). Rule of berry picking #47 – You will kneel on a berry. You will dribble strawberry juice down your shirt. Bring a few extra duds and some wet wipes for hands and faces, and your drive home will be much more comfortable.
4. A small stool or gardening pad. Strawberries are low hanging fruit. They’re easy to spot, and (thankfully) have no thorns to worry about, but you’ll be kneeling and or sitting on the ground as you pick. Your knees and lower back will thank you if you bring along something to sit on. Fortunately, kiddos are small and already closer to the berries, and you know they’ll love the excuse to sit in the dirt, so really, this is just for you.
5. Cash. Many of the farms accept plastic, but some don’t and often you can jump to the front of the line if you pay cash.
6. Room in the trunk (and in the freezer). Berries take up more room than you think, so take out the stroller before heading out so that you can lay them flat. Freezing whole berries quickly and easily by laying them (washed and dried) on a cookie sheet. That does however mean that you need a bit of extra space before you bring those little sweeties home.
Remlinger Farms has been a family favorite for decades, and for good reason. In addition to the rotating seasonal u-pick patches (strawberries in June, raspberries in July and blueberries in July/August as well as pumpkins in the fall), there’s a Family Fun Park with a train ride, a 4-H animal barn where you can pet a llama or goat, as well as a Ferris wheel and roller coaster and lots of other attractions. There’s also tons of free parking!
Cost: Prices vary depending on berry. Cash Only.
Open: Daily, 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m.; May-August for u-pick berries.
Insider Tip: Picking schedules are weather dependent; fields also close frequently to allow berries to ripen or close if fields are over picked. Check their homepage or Facebook page for daily updates and times that patches are open.
32610 N.E. 32nd St.,
Carnation, Wa 98014
If you want some gourmet berries along with your old faves, Biringer Farm is your spot. Here you’ll find strawberries, raspberries, tayberries (a delicious mix between raspberries and blackberries) and thimble sized black caps! Be sure to check out their website for event updates such as Strawberry Fest (June 21-22, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.) and Raspberry Fest (July 19-20, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.) with rides, inflatables, pony rides and more!
Cost: $2/lb u-pick strawberries; $2.75/lb u-pick raspberries; $3.25/lb u-pick tayberries.
Open: Mon.-Sat., 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun., 9 a.m.- 4 p.m.
Insider Tip: Picking schedules are weather dependent, and fields close frequently to allow berries to ripen. Call first or check there berry homepage to make sure fields are open.
21412 59th N.E. Ave.
Harvold Berry Farm
If you want an old-fashioned, straight-forward u-pick experience, check out Harvold Berry Farm in Carnation for u-pick strawberries and raspberries. Your kiddos will surely finish their suppers lightening quick if they know that their self-picked berries await them for dessert!
Cost: $2.50/lb. Cash Only.
Open: June-August; hours change daily, but often are 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
Insider Tip: Picking schedules are weather dependent, and fields close frequently to allow berries to ripen. Call first to make sure fields are open.
Harvold Berry Farm
32325 N.E. 55th St.
Carnation, Wa 98014
Bolles Organic Berry Farm
Looking for an idyllic and organic berry picking experience? Look no further than Bolles Organic Berry Farm in Monroe aka a berry picker’s dream. With rows of organic strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, you can pick to your heart’s delight and pop those sweet little gems right into your mouth knowing they were grown in pesticide-free dirt. Organic honey, veggies and herbs also available at the farm.
Cost: $2.50/lb (strawberries); $4/lb (raspberries)
Open: June-August; hours change daily, but often are 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
Insider Tip: Picking schedules are weather dependent, and fields close frequently to allow berries to ripen. Check their Facebook page for daily updates on what’s available.
Part nursery, part farm, part u-pick destination, Garden Treasures in Arlington has a lot to offer to those looking for a farm adventure ending in an all-organic basketful of berries. This is a smaller scale operation, but it is lovingly maintained. Check out their strawberries, raspberries and tayberries for a sweet take-home treat. You may love it so much that you might just sign up for their CSA!
Open: March-October; Tues.-Sun., 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Insider Tip: Picking schedules vary. Call for daily updates or check their Facebook page.
3328 State Route 530 N.W.
Arlington, Wa 98223
If you shop at area farmers’ markets, do look for local strawberries from your favorite farm stands, such as Hayton Farms, Tiny’s Organics, or Skagit Sun Berries. If you can’t get to a farmers’ market, Skagit Sun Berries brings its heirloom strawberries to Metropolitan Market and Whole Foods.
What’s your favorite recipe for all those berries? Let us know in the comment section below!
Photo credit: Allison Sutcliffe, Jeff Dubois, Gemsling via Flickr, Karen Sandler via Flickr, Lentini via Flickr, Sanchom via Flickr, David Berkowitz via Flickr, alleexmsavage via Flickr, Jon Gos via Flickr, and jrondaldlee via Flickr.