A ‘berry’ good day for berry picking

Berry picking is well underway across the area.

Whether it’s a longstanding family tradition or a spontaneous weekend trip, berry picking and summertime go hand-in-hand.

“We have a lot of repeat customers, people who come out year after year,” said Cathy Pullins, one of the owners of the family owned and operated Champaign Berry Farm in Urbana.

Several of those customers have made an impression on Pullins over the years.

“We had a family come out in 2020 that had not seen their elderly parents for months during the pandemic,” Pullins said. “They came out to pick berries together.”

Berry picking is well underway in the area with red raspberries and blueberries ripe and ready to be picked. Black raspberries, however, took a hit from the cool, wet spring weather as Champaign Berry Farm did not have a full crop. Also, Stokes Berry Farm, in Wilmington, was unable to offer a pick-your-own option, choosing to machine harvest and sell the berries frozen.

“I spend more time on my weather app than any other app,” Pullins said. “Unfortunately, the cold, wet weather impacted the quality of pollination for our black raspberries.”

While pick-your-own farms have long been a summer mainstay, most saw a significant increase in popularity during the pandemic. The farms offered a safe activity and a more enjoyable option than visiting grocery stores with reduced offerings.

“We were just amazed, the last two years, at the number of people coming out,” Pullins said.

ExploreFARMERS MARKET GUIDE: Where to find local produce, goods across the Dayton area

Ripe, juicy berries can be found throughout the area as the Miami Valley has several pick-your-own farms. And berry picking is much more fun than a trip to the grocery store – think outdoor scavenger hunt with a mouthwatering prize.

“People love to come pick their own fruit,” said Glenn Monnin, owner of Monnin’s Fruit Farm. “It’s an experience for the kids to see where fruit really comes from.”

Filling your bucket is only half the fun. Eating your haul – whether on its own or baked into a pie – is the real treat. And it can’t get any fresher than plucking the fruit directly from the field. It’s a win…win…win for customers like the Halabi family of Kettering.

“It’s a great family activity, it supports local farms, and you get fresh produce,” said Barb Halabi.

Supplying fresh produce within a family-friendly environment is a top priority for local you-pick farms.

“We want to produce healthy fruit and provide an authentic experience for families,” said Stephanie Stokes, owner of Stokes Berry Farm.

ExploreNew restaurant opening in Clayton to bring diversity for foodies

While the picking season for some berries, like strawberries, is already over, there are still some sweet treats, like blackberries, that will be ready to pick later in the summer. Fresh fruit and family fun, berry picking at local farms offers a full serving of both.

Fresh fruit picking close to home:

Berryhill Farm

What: Blackberries, blueberries, red raspberries

Where: 127 E. Krepps Road, Xenia

Info: For updates, visit the farm’s Facebook page, website (www.berryhillfarm.net) or call 937-375-8747.

Champaign Berry Farm

What: Red and black raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, currants and peaches

Where: 5676 E. State Route 29, Urbana

Info: For updates visit the farm’s Facebook page, website (www.champaignberryfarm.com) or call 937-232-7525.

Irons Fruit Farm

What: Strawberries, blueberries and apples

Where: 1640 Stubbs-Mill Road, Lebanon

Info: For updates, visit the farm’s Facebook page or call 513-932-2853

Monnin’s Fruit Farm

What: Strawberries, raspberries, grapes and apples

Where: 8201 Frederick Pike, Dayton

Info: For updates visit the farm’s Facebook page, website (www.monninsfruitfarm.com/) or call 937-890-4536.

Once in a Blue Moon Farm

What: Blueberries

Where: 3984 E. Social Row Road, Waynesville

Info: For updates visit the farm’s Facebook page or call 937-586-8749

Peifer Orchards

What: Blackberries, red and black raspberries and apples

Where: 4590 U.S. 68 N, Yellow Springs

Info: Subscribe to the weekly crop report at www.peiferorchards.com for updates or call 937-767-2208

Stokes Berry Farm

What: Strawberries and black raspberries

Where: 2822 Center Road, Wilmington

Info: For updates on what is ripe as well as hours, visit the farm’s Facebook page, website (https://stokesberryfarm.com/) or call 937-317-0074

The Homestead Berry Farm

What: Blackberries

Where: 5427 West Enon Road, Fairborn

Info: For updates, visit the farm’s Facebook page, website (www.homesteadberryfarm.com) or call 937-864-1279

About the Author