Did you know that May 20th is Pick Strawberries Day? The U-Pick’em season is upon us and it might be a great way to get the family out of the house for some fresh air and exercise. The strawberry season lasts from the end of May through June, and is a crop that is strongly affected by the weather. It is important to call the places ahead of time before leaving to make sure the strawberries are ready and haven’t been picked over. And while apple picking is fun in the fall for the taller folks, the little ones will have fun picking fruit off a plant much closer to the ground this spring.

Garden Patch Farms & Orchards

Located 45 minutes away from the city in Homer Glen, Garden Patch Farms & Orchards offers your family the chance to spend a day picking their strawberries. The cost is only $5 a person (including children) plus the price per pound of whatever you pick. They provide you the baskets and wagons to wheel around your goods. If you’re in a hurry you can shop their farm market instead of picking your own. They anticipate the strawberries being ready around June 1.

14154 W. 159th St.
Homer Glen, IL 60491
Phone: 708-301-7720
Website: gardenpatchfarms.com
Hours: Monday – Saturday: 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Sunday: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Knutson’s Country Harvest

Travel just a little over an hour outside of the city and you’ll be in Newark visiting Knutson’s. They are a family-owned and operated orchard that features pick-your-own fruits and vegetables. They’ll also be willing to give you a tour of their hydroponic systems, which is a method of growing plants in mineral nutrient solutions in water and without soil. They also have bee demonstrations and it might be a great place to take the kids for a lesson in science while having fun. They anticipate their strawberries being ready in June, and you can pick to your hearts desire for $4 a pound.

13550 Townhouse Rd.
Newark, IL 60541
Phone: 815-557-4629
Website: knutsonsharvest.com

Guelde Strawberries

(credit: gardenpatchfarms.com)

Guelde Strawberries

Traveling a wee bit further for an hour and half drive, you can reach a farm that only has strawberries, asparagus and pumpkins. Their strawberry season will start approximately June 7 this year and the strawberry patch is pick your own. They welcome children to their farm and even offer space for picnic lunches, so make a day of it. They will also supply buckets and boxes to put your pickings in.

4779 E. 1525th Rd.
Earlville, IL 60518
Phone: 815-246-9609
Website: www.gueldestrawberries.com

Olive Berry Acres

What started as just a raspberry farm has now expanded to include strawberries and asparagus. Travel 70 miles southwest of Chicago to Olive Berry Acres in Mazon to visit the home of what they call “berry delicious berries.” Starting in late May have your choice of four varieties of strawberries to pick, three of which were developed by the owner’s brother. They state that new for this season, you do not need to make an appointment to come, but they highly suggest calling in advance to check on the availability of the crop.

2575 W. Mine Road
Mazon, IL 60444
Phone: 815-474-6511
E-mail: oliveberryacres@aol.com
Website: www.oliveberryacres.com
Hours: Monday: Closed; Tuesday – Friday: 9 a.m. – 1p.m.; Saturday – Sunday: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Plow Creek Farm

If you’re really up for a road trip, take the two-hour trek to Tiskilwa to visit Plow Creek Farm. They are excited to announce that as of April 28 the strawberry plants were starting to blossom and they are expecting to have berries to sell by the second week of June. They welcome children and the whole family. They even realize that kids have a tendency to eat more than they put into their containers. If you’re a first-time strawberry picker they have a description on how to pick strawberries that is very helpful. You’ll have your choice of 5 different varieties to choose from.

19183 Plow Creek Rd, Unit 2
Tiskilwa, IL 61368
Phone: 815-646-4862
E-mail: farm@plowcreek.org
Website: www.plowcreek.org/farm
Hours: U-pick hours vary so call ahead.

Rachel Azark is a writer and lives on Chicago’s northwest side. Read more of her work on her blog parksandpancakes.com.