Whether it’s a longstanding family tradition or a spontaneous weekend trip, berry picking and summertime go hand-in-hand.
“We have a lot of repeat customers, people who come out year after year,” said Cathy Pullins, one of the owners of the family owned and operated Champaign Berry Farm in Urbana.
Several of those customers have made an impression on Pullins over the years.
“We had a family come out in 2020 that had not seen their elderly parents for months during the pandemic,” Pullins said. “They came out to pick berries together.”
Berry picking is well underway in the area with red raspberries and blueberries ripe and ready to be picked. Black raspberries, however, took a hit from the cool, wet spring weather as Champaign Berry Farm did not have a full crop. Also, Stokes Berry Farm, in Wilmington, was unable to offer a pick-your-own option, choosing to machine harvest and sell the berries frozen.
“I spend more time on my weather app than any other app,” Pullins said. “Unfortunately, the cold, wet weather impacted the quality of pollination for our black raspberries.”
While pick-your-own farms have long been a summer mainstay, most saw a significant increase in popularity during the pandemic. The farms offered a safe activity and a more enjoyable option than visiting grocery stores with reduced offerings.
“We were just amazed, the last two years, at the number of people coming out,” Pullins said.
Ripe, juicy berries can be found throughout the area as the Miami Valley has several pick-your-own farms. And berry picking is much more fun than a trip to the grocery store – think outdoor scavenger hunt with a mouthwatering prize.
“People love to come pick their own fruit,” said Glenn Monnin, owner of Monnin’s Fruit Farm. “It’s an experience for the kids to see where fruit really comes from.”
Filling your bucket is only half the fun. Eating your haul – whether on its own or baked into a pie – is the real treat. And it can’t get any fresher than plucking the fruit directly from the field. It’s a win…win…win for customers like the Halabi family of Kettering.
“It’s a great family activity, it supports local farms, and you get fresh produce,” said Barb Halabi.
Supplying fresh produce within a family-friendly environment is a top priority for local you-pick farms.
“We want to produce healthy fruit and provide an authentic experience for families,” said Stephanie Stokes, owner of Stokes Berry Farm.
While the picking season for some berries, like strawberries, is already over, there are still some sweet treats, like blackberries, that will be ready to pick later in the summer. Fresh fruit and family fun, berry picking at local farms offers a full serving of both.
Fresh fruit picking close to home:
What: Blackberries, blueberries, red raspberries
Where: 127 E. Krepps Road, Xenia
Info: For updates, visit the farm’s Facebook page, website (www.berryhillfarm.net) or call 937-375-8747.
Champaign Berry Farm
What: Red and black raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, currants and peaches
Where: 5676 E. State Route 29, Urbana
Info: For updates visit the farm’s Facebook page, website (www.champaignberryfarm.com) or call 937-232-7525.
Irons Fruit Farm
What: Strawberries, blueberries and apples
Where: 1640 Stubbs-Mill Road, Lebanon
Info: For updates, visit the farm’s Facebook page or call 513-932-2853
Monnin’s Fruit Farm
What: Strawberries, raspberries, grapes and apples
Where: 8201 Frederick Pike, Dayton
Info: For updates visit the farm’s Facebook page, website (www.monninsfruitfarm.com/) or call 937-890-4536.
Once in a Blue Moon Farm
Where: 3984 E. Social Row Road, Waynesville
Info: For updates visit the farm’s Facebook page or call 937-586-8749
What: Blackberries, red and black raspberries and apples
Where: 4590 U.S. 68 N, Yellow Springs
Info: Subscribe to the weekly crop report at www.peiferorchards.com for updates or call 937-767-2208
Stokes Berry Farm
What: Strawberries and black raspberries
Where: 2822 Center Road, Wilmington
Info: For updates on what is ripe as well as hours, visit the farm’s Facebook page, website (https://stokesberryfarm.com/) or call 937-317-0074
The Homestead Berry Farm
Where: 5427 West Enon Road, Fairborn
Info: For updates, visit the farm’s Facebook page, website (www.homesteadberryfarm.com) or call 937-864-1279