Berry Picking Time

This is the time of year when those of us who have been patiently waiting for  fresh local fruit to arrive can finally rejoice. It’s berry picking time! One of our favorite ways to find berry patches (and later in the year, orchards and pumpkin patches, too) is The easy to navigate web site not only provides all the info you need to find the freshest fruit in Central Virginia (or anywhere else in the country, for that matter), it also provides comments from customer who give the scoop on what’s ripe when, the best time to get to the berry patch for the best picking, and the all-important “schlep factor.”

We’ve made an annual ritual of picking our own berries, and here are some of our favorite local farms. Most of them also offer pre-picked fruit and other yummies for sale. Please be sure to call ahead to be sure the fruit is still bearing.

Seaman’s Orchard has strawberries at $1.99/lb now through early June. They also offer apples later in the season. 415 Dark Hollow Rd., Roseland, VA (just south of Lovingston). 434-277-8130.

Critzer Family Farm’s plentiful strawberry patches open on May 7, Monday through Saturday, 8am-6pm. 9388 Critzer Shop Rd., Route 151, Afton, VA. 540-456-4772.

Chiles Peach Orchard and Farm Market in Crozet has strawberries for picking ($2.69/lb) starting May 6. Later in the season they’ll also have peaches, apples, and pumpkins. 1351 Greenwood Rd. 823-1583.

Troyer Nursery in Waynesboro will have strawberries for sale in late May for $1.69/lb. They’re open Monday through Saturday 8am-4:30pm or until picked out, and they only accept cash or check. 66 Conner Rd. Directions: I-64 to exit 94, Rt. 340 south 1.5 miles, right on Rt. 933 (Conner Road ), go .2 mile and turn left at Troyer Nursery sign on blue gravel drive. 540-932-7363.

The Berrypatch in Free Union has blueberries, raspberries, and honey from hives on the property. They open for the season in late May/early June on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday from 8am-noon, Thursday from 5pm-9pm. It’s best to arrive early as the berries often sell out and the patch closes. 3035 Pevine Hollow. 963-0659.

Spring Valley Orchard in Batesville is another Chiles Family farm that offers pick-your-own cherries. Look for the season to open in early June for about six weeks, but Mother Nature calls the shots, so you should call the orchard to be sure. Rt. 634 (Spring Valley Rd.). 823-1583.

What's your favorite place for picking?