Farms & Orchards: A Fresh Summer Experience
If you’re looking for an adventure to liven up the lazy days of summer, consider a family outing to a local farm or orchard. Today’s farms are happening activity centers where kids can pick plump berries from a vine, get up-close with goats and sheep, go climbing on playgrounds — and finish the day with a homemade ice cream cone.
“Our goal is to make the picking an exciting, entertaining farm experience for kids and the parents,” says Pete Johnson, co-owner of Johnson’s Corner Farm in Medford, NJ.
Besides having fun, kids can gain a lesson or two. “The kids are learning where their food comes from,” says Michael Fennemore, co-owner of Fifer Orchards in Wyoming, DE. “In the strawberry fields, they get to see the red berry, the green berry and the flower, all at the same time. They get to see the beginning to the end of the strawberry life cycle.”
Families are encouraged to ask the staff questions about the crops and the qualities that indicate ripeness, such as color and firmness, says Bonnie Griffith, field trip and group reservation coordinator at Johnson’s.
Picking produce or shopping at the farms’ markets lets you choose from several varieties and select fruits at the peak of ripeness. Savvy produce shoppers can purchase a season’s supply, then can or freeze for later use. Many farms provide tips for storing and saving fruit.
Here are farms offering pick-your-own opportunities and other farm experiences for families this summer.
A series of fruit festivals at Linvilla Orchards in Media feature kid-friendly entertainment along with fruit picking: Strawberry Festival, June 5-6. Raspberry Festival, June 19. Blueberry Festival, July 10. Sweet Corn & Blackberry Festival, July 24. Peach Festival, Aug. 7-8. Tomato & Pear Festival, Aug. 21.
Listen to live music & sample wines while kids enjoy the playground at Shady Brook Farm in Yardley during the Wine Concert Series, Friday nights through Sept. 17. Cruise Nights on Tuesday nights through the end of August feature all types of cars & trophies are awarded every week. The playground & market are also open.
Little Sprouts at Snipes Farm & Education Center in Morrisville introduces preschoolers to seeds, soil & farm animals through stories, songs & games. Register now for the program, which runs Tues.-Thurs. mornings in July ($20 per class). Snipes also hosts music festivals throughout the summer and you can pick your own blueberries & blackberries at the farm.
After picking strawberries on the weekends at Willow Creek Orchards in Collegeville, head back to the front porch for free kids’ crafts & coloring pages.
Other pick-your-own farms: Hellerick’s in Plumsteadville/Doylestown, Highland Orchards in West Chester, Indian Orchards in Media (610-565-8387), Solebury Orchards in New Hope (215-297-8079); Styer Orchard in Langhorne; and Trauger’s in Kitnersville.
Pack a picnic lunch & visit Coverdale Farm in Greenville for Farm Fun Days, Wednesdays through Oct., 12noon-2:30pm. Families can visit with animals & talk with the staff to learn more about farm life. $3-$5.
Pick your own strawberries, flowers & blueberries this summer at Fifer Orchards Farm & Country Store in Wyoming. On Peach Ice Cream Day, Sat., Aug. 7, visitors receive free peach ice cream cones. Also enjoy live music, wagon & pony rides and other festivities.
Kids can visit with farm animals & explore the “play barn” at Milburn Orchards in Elkton, MD. Pick-your-own cherries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries & grapes are available this summer. Picked peaches can be purchased in the market.
You can purchase plants for your garden and shop at the farm-fresh market at Creamy Acres Farm in Mullica Hill. During your visit, you might spot farmers tending to animals. The Summer Harvest Fest, Sat., July 24, will feature baking contests, pony rides, face painting & music.
At Johnson’s Corner Farm in Medford, the Discovery Barnyard play area with pedal go-karts & an animal farm where kids can feed animals is open daily, along with hayrides to the picking fields. Wednesday Family Fun Nights and Friday Night Farm-B-Q’s (June 16-Sept. 3, 5-8pm) feature discounts on activities, live entertainment & food from the grill.
Take a trip to Terhune Orchards in Princeton, NJ for preschooler Read & Pick programs, where kids & parents go fruit picking then listen to a story highlighting the featured crop, most Tues. mornings through Aug. Or visit on Sun., June 27 for the Firefly Festival, where kids can learn about lightning bugs through games & presentations. The Blueberry Bash, Sat.-Sun., July 10-11 includes entertainment, a blueberry “bake-off” competition & treats.
Stephanie Halinski is calendar editor of MetroKids.