Our weekend? You might say it was jam-packed…..literally.
The boys and I have done lots of roadside blackberry picking and some hillside blueberry and huckleberry picking, but this weekend was our very first try at a U-pick strawberry patch. Local strawberries really are so much yummier than those sad, California berries, and I had visions of shiny jars of jam dancing in my head. I dragged my husband too, even though he was muttering about all the years of night school he’d done to avoid having to work that hard. Whatever….
We went to Picha Farms since it’s the closest for us (Spooner isn’t offering U-pick this year because of the poor spring). At Picha you pick up your boxes from the stand or buy already picked rapsberries or strawberries if you change your mind! You’ll be directed across the road to the field where a berry girl will assign you to a row. This was a little too organized for my hubby, but it does make sense. I was pleasantly surprised to find that both boys got right into the task and understood that the berries were supposed to go in the box rather than their tummies.
If you’re new to the strawberry scene too, here are a few quick tips:
- Dress Appropriately-Wear clothes and shoes suitable for the field, and hats and sunscreen (you know, in case….) In terms of facilities, there is a porta-potty with a bottle of hand sanitizer. That’s it.
- Know Your Limits! Picha charges 1.50 a lb. which is a great deal for fresh strawberries. You may want to decide on how much you want ahead of time, though. We overdid it a bit, which leads to…
- Have a Plan Fresh strawberries go south fast, so if you don’t have time to deal with them, you’ll want to rinse them and spread them in a layer on a cookie sheet to freeze. Then you can bag up the frozen berries for whenever. My friend Jeanne gave me this genius tip. Unfortunately, it was a little late for me. I’ve been running a bit of a jam sweat shop.
- Fight the boredom-If you’re planning on some serious picking, be aware that most kids will have fun for the first 30 minutes or so, before boredom sets in. My friend Traci suggests bringing along some cars or other small toys to let them play with in the dirt. Brilliant!
If Picha isn’t in your neck of the woods, Angela over at The Coupon Project has compiled a whole list of U-pick farms in Pierce County (I can’t wait to try some of the blueberry places)! You can see options for Thurston County here thanks to Heather of Queen Bee Coupons, and Christy at Thrifty and Thriving did this list for King County. You can also check the guide from Puget Sound Fresh, though I’ve found not all of the listings are up to date.
It’s a good idea to call before you head out anywhere. Some places that typically offer berries aren’t this year because of our endless winter, and others have berries but not enough to do U-pick. You can also ask about how the berries are grown-if it’s important to you to eat organic don’t assume that because a farm is small, it’s organic. Most aren’t. If you’d like to try Picha, too, the season goes a few more days. Check their Facebook page for the most up to date info.
What did I do with all those berries? I’ll have a little post on that in just a bit!