Sure, you can pick up a pint of ABP (already been picked) berries, but where’s the fun in that? Take the kids to pick strawberries at a nearby farm and show ’em that they grow out of the ground, not clear plastic boxes. You’ll come home with pounds of summer goodness, happy memories and possibly some strawberry stains, too (psst…boiling water takes them out—trust us!). Here are some of the area’s best places to u-pick!
How Things Are Different this Year
With COVID-19 looming over us, pickers can expect some changes to their usual u-pick experience. The fun activities and festivals many families look forward to may not be happening this year. Also many of the local farms are asking folks to follow the WSDA recommendations when they visit. Here's what you can do to stay healthy and safe:
1. If you or your family are not feeling well, please stay home.
2. Wash or sanitize your hands before entering the fields.
3. Social distancing is still a very “in” thing to do even at the farms.
4. Masks for everyone age 2 and up are appreciated.
5. No large groups please. Families stay together.
6. No eating from the fields.
7. Be sure to wash your strawberries before eating them, even if they come from an organic garden.
The story goes like this: in 1955, Hazel Duris just wanted to make a few pickles and asked her husband to help her plant a garden. Today, the Duris Farm grows a lot of cucumbers alongside a lot of other produce as well including strawberries ripe for the picking. Drop everything and come on out. You can't beat the price and they are providing free u-pick boxes, too.
Opening date: Mid-June. Check their Facebook page for updates.
Hours: Daily, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
The Farm at Swan's Trail
You may be familiar with The Farm at Swan's Trail because it's your go-to spot for fall festivities. This year, make it your go-to spot for another reason—ripe red strawberries. 2020 marks their inaugural strawberry season, and they're excited to host families for u-pick this summer. BYOMask if you've got it, but if not, masks will be available.
Opening date: May 29
Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. or until they're picked out.
If you want gourmet berries along with your old faves, Biringer Farm is your spot. Here, you’ll find raspberries, tayberries (a delicious mix between a Scotland raspberry and a Oregon blackberry), blackberries and thimble-sized black caps. But their strawberry season kicks off the summer berry madness in early June. Picking schedules are weather dependent and fields close frequently to allow berries to ripen. Call first or check their berry alert homepage or Facebook page to make sure fields are open.
Opening date: Jun. 8-10. Check their Facebook page for updates.
Hours:., 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Cost: 2020 prices TBD. Prices are usually around $2.75/lb for U-pick and pre-picked strawberries.
Remlinger Farms has been a family favorite for decades, and for good reason. In addition to the rotating seasonal U-pick patches (strawberries in late May and June, raspberries in July and blueberries in July/August as well as pumpkins in the fall), there’s a Family Fun Park with a steam train, a 4-H animal barn (where you can pet a llama or a goat) as well as a Ferris wheel and roller coaster and lots of other farm attractions. (Though COVID-19 has hit all of us hard this year, Remlinger hopes to have the Fun Park up and running soon.) The Farm Market, featuring all kinds of goods made with Remlinger berries, is also worth a stop. Tons of free parking too and containers are provided, so you can leave yours at home.
Good to Know: Strawberry fields will be open for approximately one month, but picking schedules are weather dependent; fields also close frequently to allow berries to ripen or close if fields are over picked. Check their website or Facebook page for daily updates and times the patches are open or give them a call at 425-333-4135 x250.
Opening date: Mid-June.
Hours: Daily, 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. U-pick season open June-Aug.
Cost: Prices vary. Berries are sold by the pound and are weighed when you are done picking right there in the field. Cash only.
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 knowing they were grown in pesticide-free dirt. Organic honey (available in one-pound jars for $15), veggies and herbs are also available at the farm. Psst…dogs are welcome, but please bring a leash.
Good to know: 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.
Opening date: Mid-June.
Hours: Daily, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Jun.-Aug.
Cost: 2020 price TBD but about $3/lb. Cash, check, debit and credit accepted.
Bolles Organic Berry Farm
17930 Tualco Loop Rd.
Monroe, WA 98272
Online: Find them on Facebook
Harvold Berry Farm
If you want an old-fashioned, straight-forward u-pick experience, check out Harvold Berry Farm in Carnation for strawberries and raspberries. Your kiddos will surely finish their suppers lightning quick if they know self-picked berries are for dessert. This field is kid-friendly but not dog-friendly, so leave Fido at home. Strawberry varieties are Puget Reliance, Puget Crimson and Shuksan; raspberries are Tulameen. While the Harvold Berry Farm is not organic, they only use the mildest, least toxic products in order to achieve a good, healthy crop. Keep in mind, picking schedules are weather dependent and fields do close frequently to allow berries to ripen. Call first or check their Facebook page to make sure fields are open.
Opening date: Mid-June.
Hours: Mon.-Sat., 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Jun.-Aug.
Cost: 2020 prices TBD. Usually about $2/pound. Cash Only. Take home containers provided at no cost.
Harvold Strawberry Field
7701 Carnation-Duvall Rd. N.E.
Carnation, WA 98014
Harvold Rasperry Field
5207 Carnation-Duvall Rd. N.E.
Carnation, WA 98014
Garden Treasures Nursery & Organic Farm
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 with a few U-pick patches. And they do sell pre-picked berries by the half and full flat. Check out their strawberries, raspberries and tayberries for a sweet take-home treat. Picking schedules vary. Call for daily updates or check their Facebook page.
Good to Know: Garden Treasures offers a unique U-Pick experience during most of the year. In this separate, small garden you can pick a variety of fruits and vegetables from May to October. You can get Albion Everbearing strawberries in their greenhouses from Aug.-Oct., too.
Opening date: Mid-June
Hours: Tues.-Sun., 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Cost: 2020 prices TBD. Prices are subject to market stand prices, with exceptions depending on availability. Pre-picked berries are usually around $5/pint; $22/half flat; $40/full flat.
Picha’s Berry Farm
Third generation farmers, Dan and Russ Picha, are carrying on the family business begun by their grandfather Mathias Picha in 1904 and continued by their father Ted Picha. Known for producing some of the juiciest, sweetest berries in the South Sound, it’s no wonder families flock to Picha’s Berry Farm every summer. Strawberries are the only U-pick berries, but the Farm does offer pre-picked blackberries and raspberries in July. And they offer a robust selection of strawberries, including Shuksan, Totem, Rainier and Puget Summer.
Good to Know: Picha’s berries are available at two convenient locations—in Puyallup (just off River Rd. at 66th Ave. E.) and in Tacoma (one block east of Mt. Tahoma High School). Strawberry U-pick is only available at the Puyallup location. Picha's also offers a "berry pick up location" in Tacoma where you can just drive-up, pick-up and go!
Opening date: Mid-June. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for daily updates and strawberry picking dates.
Hours: Daily, 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m. (or so). May-Oct.
Picha's Berry Farm
6502 52nd St. E.
Puyallup, WA 98371
Cash, checks, debit & credit cards accepted
Picha's Berry Pick Up
74th & Tyler
Tacoma, WA 98409
Cash and checks only
Bailey Family Farm
Located on 350 acres in the Snohomish Valley, Bailey U-Pick Farm started in 1986 with only two acres of U-Pick and has since grown to over 40 acres. Bailey Farm is family owned and operated and has been in the family for over 100 years. Started in 1913, five generations of Baileys have lived and worked on the farm. The Farm operates June through October with strawberries available for U-pick in mid-June, raspberries in July, vegetables (potatoes, cucumbers, green beans, zucchini, peas, carrots, beets, flowers, cabbage and onions) July through October, apples mid September to mid October and a pumpkin patch in October with free wagon rides and a play barn on weekends. Psst…the Farm partnered with PCC Farmland Trust to ensure that it will never be developed, it will forever be a farm. How cool is that?
Good to Know: Even though strawberry U-pick opens in early June, picking schedules vary and fields often close to allow berries to ripen. Call for daily updates or check their Facebook page. If you miss their U-pick dates, you can find their berries at the Snohomish farmers market.
Opening date: May 29.
Hours: Daily, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. June-Oct.
Cost: 2020 prices TBD. Around $2.50/lb. Cash and all major credit cards accepted.
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. Be sure to plan ahead and plan to make something tasty, maybe 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 and 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.
—Jeffrey Totey, Kristina Moy & Katie Gruver
featured image via flickr