The coronavirus pandemic sparked a desire for self-sufficiency when it comes to the food supply chain. Empty grocery shelves have been matched by empty shelves of fruit and vegetable plants and empty racks of seeds at local garden centers.
But you don’t need acres of land to get fresh produce. Ripe, juicy berries can be found close to home as the Miami Valley has several pick-your-own berry farms. And berry picking is much more fun than a trip to the grocery store — think outdoor scavenger hunt with tasty treats as the prize.
>> THINGS TO DO: Dinosaurs, space and wizarding science on tap as Boonshoft Museum of Discovery Summer STEM camps return
Amanda Matthias has fond childhood memories of berry picking with her aunt in Michigan. Now, the Washington Twp. woman is sharing the cherished tradition with her daughter.
“I love being outdoors and I love the hunt — looking for just the right berry,” Matthias said. “I also love finding new ways to use the berries with my daughter and, of course, we love eating our collaborations.”
Lifting up the leaves and searching for the perfect berry can be a challenge for all ages. Pick a few perfect juicy, red berries and move on to another patch or a nearby row.
>> GET ACTIVE: Bird-watching 101: Down-to-earth advice on getting started
“The pure joy you see on the kids’ faces — everyone’s faces — is just so wonderful,” Stokes said.
Strawberries are the current ripe berry at Stokes, but black raspberries will soon be available. Other local berry farms offer blueberries, red raspberries and, even, gooseberries. Grapes and apples will be available later in the year.
Fresh fruit and family fun, berry picking at local farms offers a full serving of both.
“We want to produce healthy fruit and provide an authentic experience for families,” Stokes said.
Because berries are seasonal, please check the farm’s websites or call to make sure pick-yourself-berries are still available.
FRESH FRUIT PICKING CLOSE TO HOME
Champaign Berry Farm
What: Red and black raspberries, gooseberries
Where: 5676 E. State Route 29, Urbana
More info: Visit the farm's Facebook page, website or call 937-232-7525.
Monnin’s Fruit Farm
What: Strawberries, raspberries, grapes and apples
Where: 8201 Frederick Pike, Dayton
More info: Visit the farm's Facebook page, website or call 937-890-4536
Once in a Blue Moon Farm
Where: 3984 E. Social Row Road, Waynesville
More info: Visit the farm's Facebook page or call 937-586-8749
Stokes Berry Farm
What: Strawberries and black raspberries
Where: 2822 Center Road, Wilmington
More info: For updates on what is ripe as well as hours, visit the farm's Facebook page, website or call (937) 317-0074