With the aromatic smell of summer in the air, the sweet flavor of fresh fruit isn't far behind. For urbanites that thirst for a “Green Acres” back-to-nature experience, a fun family outing or the absolute best way to get that fresh-picked flavor is to… pick it yourself! Throughout America, pick-it-yourself, PYO or U-picks abound for a cornucopia of tastes that follow the growing seasons, not the transport lanes.
With U-pick, you don’t have to guess how long the fruit has been sitting in the grocery store bin, but you do have to work a little for it. Also, it might not have the same gussied-up, waxed, sheen and glamor that produce has in the store, but fruits of the earth should look a little earthy.
Often, you may need to follow tricky directions to find out-of-the-way farms that keep irregular hours that match growing seasons. Make sure you check for all the necessary information in advance, including if you'll need to bring any tools or baskets. It is also a good idea to wear shoes and attire fit for bending, stretching, kneeling and getting a little dirty.
Unless it's the middle of winter, there's usually somewhere in the country where U-picks are in operation. We tracked down places all across the country where the finest in-season fruits and vegetables are just waiting for you to come along and pick them. There really is nothing like eating produce that's just been picked, before it has time to be shipped off to the supermarket, usually resulting in a loss of flavor. And food always tastes better when it's been allowed to ripen on the vine, tree, or plant: just look at tomatoes! Picking your own fruits and vegetables is also a great way to teach kids that veggies don't just appear on their plate; they grow out of the ground and are usually absolutely delicious.
Here’s a journey across America that’s ripe for the picking.