Nothing screams summertime in the Pacific Northwest like getting your hands dirty with berry picking. While it’s not officially summer yet, 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 fill dozens of ruby red jam jars, we’ve rounded up five u-pick strawberry farms—just a short drive from Seattle—where your sweeties can pick until their heart’s content.
photo: Allison Sutcliffe
Good to Know Before You Go
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 be sure to plan ahead and invite the neighbors over for some shortcake or smoothies or strawberry pancakes for a summertime feast when you return. We also 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 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, kids 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 you can lay them flat. Freeze whole berries quickly and easily by laying them (washed and dried) on a cookie sheet. That does, however, mean that you’ll need a bit of extra space before you bring those little sweeties home.
photo: Karen Sandler via Flickr
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! Psst… Containers are provided, so you can leave yours at home and since Remlinger Farms uses only natural fertilizers, their berries are safe to eat right from the field!
Cost: Prices vary. Berries are sold by the pound and are weighed when you are done picking right there in the field. 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 the patches are open.
photo: Gemsling via Flickr
If you want gourmet berries along with your old faves, Biringer Farm is your spot. Here, you’ll find strawberries, raspberries, tayberries (a delicious mix between a Scotland raspberry and an Oregon blackberry), blackberries and thimble-sized black caps! Be sure to check their website for event updates such as Strawberry Fest (June 20-21 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.) and Raspberry Fest (in July) 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.
photo: Allison Sutcliffe
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! This field is kid-friendly, but not dog-friendly so leave Fido at home.
Cost: 1.25/lb. Cash Only. Take home containers provided at no cost.
Open: May-August, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Closed on Sun.
Insider Tip: Picking schedules are weather dependent, and fields close frequently to allow berries to ripen. Call first or check their Facebook page to make sure fields are open.
photo: Jeff Dubois
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). Cash, check, debit and credit accepted.
Open: May-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.
photo: Allison Sutcliffe
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 just love it so much that you sign up for their CSA!
Open: May-October. Tues.-Sun., 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Insider Tip: Picking schedules vary. Call for daily updates or check their Facebook page.
photo: David Berkowitz via Flickr
If you shop your local farmers markets, do look for local strawberries from your favorite farm stands such as Hayton Farms, Tiny’s Organics, or Skagit Sun Berries. Psst! If you can’t get to a farmers market, Skagit Sun Berries brings its heirloom strawberries to Metropolitan Market and Whole Foods.
Where is your favorite place to pick strawberries with your pint-sized sweeties? Let us know in the Comments below!
— Katie Gruver & Kristina Moy
feature photo courtesy of alleexmsavage via Flickr