When you’ve got parents who don’t garden, how’s a kid supposed to satisfy that itch to hunt and gather? The solution in our family is to visit a variety of pick-your-own farms and orchards throughout the growing season and let the kids harvest to their little hearts’ content. We love to scout berries in the summer months, fresh veggies as summer wanes, and we cram as many apple orchard trips into the fall as our schedule allows. It may cost a little more than purchasing at our local grocery store, but we believe the experience is worth it.
Skip down to our Pick-Your-Own Produce Address Book or continue reading about what you can pick fresh all season long.
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Find the best places to pick berries & Produce in the Twin Cities
June strawberry picking
Some Twin Cities pick-your-own farms to keep in mind for June that make a great day trip: PLEASANT VALLEY FARM near Taylors Falls was our family’s first berry-picking adventure. Years later we’ve yet to come across a sweeter strawberry than those harvested at that farm. We’ve been treated very well at AFTON APPLE ORCHARD (they offer berries in the summer; see below for fall fruit). I’ve also heard good things about PINE TREE ORCHARD and WYATT’S STRAWBERRIES for a South Metro strawberry picking option. Skip down to our pick-your-own produce address to find the farms that offer strawberries or click on the berries for our own list of the best strawberry farms.
Fresh berries are usually plentiful at TWIN CITIES SPRING & SUMMER FARMERS MARKETS, so if you don’t time to drive to the berry patch, stop in at a local market.
July raspeberry & Blueberry picking
Last July, I loved watching my kids meandering down the rows of raspberry and blueberry bushes at THE BERRY PATCH of Forest Lake. The bushels of wild blueberries from BLUEBERRY FIELDS OF STILLWATER barely survived the trip back home. Keep in mind that many orchards offer pick-your-own fall raspberries if July escapes you: we’ve enjoyed picking at AFTON APPLE ORCHARD and APPLE JACK ORCHARDS of Delano.
AUGUST VEGGIE PICKING
If it’s veggies you’re craving, we were amazed by the summer selection at WALDOCH FARM GARDEN CENTER of Lino Lakes. Beans, peppers, corn, squash, greens, peas; you name it, you could pick it. My kids have always been decent vegetable-eaters, but I’ve heard reluctant little ones might be more interested in eating them if they’ve had a hand in harvesting and preparing them!
Some Community Supported Agriculture Farms encourage members (and maybe others) to come help with harvesting. If you have a CSA, ask if you can bring the kids to pick vegetables.
Farmer’s markets don’t allow little ones to pick their own produce, but we have collected a list of the best TWIN CITIES FALL FARMERS MARKETS and paired them with other fun outings.
SEPTEMBER PICK-YOUR-OWN APPLE ORCHARDS
twin cities Pick your own pumpkin patches
TWIN CITIES PICK-YOUR-OWN ADDRESS BOOK
Please, always call ahead to check availability before heading out! This can prevent some major disappointment as well as wasting precious mileage and gas on the drive. Often, the farms have very specific picking hours (typically during the earlier half of the day) or extreme weather has affected the crop. Note that this address book does NOT include all of the APPLE ORCHARDS & PUMPKIN PATCHES in the Twin Cities, but if a farm offers these options, we’ve listed it here.
TWIN CITIES NORTHWEST METRO
ANOKA: Berry Hill Farm
Crop: Strawberries, raspberries, and rhubarb during the summer season starting mid-June. Fall brings the pumpkin patch and activities on the weekends. 763-753-5891.
Long Lake: Wahlfor’s Rasberry Farm
Crop: Wahlfor’s speciality is raspberries – red & black. There is no website for this farm so please call 763-473-7770 before coming out.
ST MICHAEL: D Round Barn Berries
Crop: Exclusively strawberries. 612-237-8443.
Reader Carol recommends: J. Q. Fruit Farm and Orchard in Princeton — just an hours drive from the metro. She tells us the farm has has blueberries, raspberry and apples. Supervised children are welcome and strollers and wagons are both allowed.
TWIN CITIES NORTHEAST METRO
Forest Lake: The Berry Patch
Crop: PYO strawberries in June, raspberries & blueberries in July. You can get hours of operation and prices on their website. This farm is just a few minutes away from a wide sandy beach on Big Marine Lake. We’ve included Big Marine in our list of the 20 BEST TWIN CITIES BEACHES & PLAYGROUNDS. 651-433-3448.
Lino Lakes: Waldoch Farm Garden Center
Crop: PYO produce varieties can be found here, including a colorful, extensive list of summer vegetables. Waldoch offers Pick and Play starting mid-July through Labor Day weekend and includes admission to playground equipment, a sandbox and other activities. $6/child.
More family fun: Fall weekends offer a full afternoon of play in the corn maze, pedal tractors and other equipment. Wristbands can be purchased for admission into most of the activities. For free fun, visit the Joyer Barnyard and meet the animals.
NORTH BRANCH: Rod’s berry farm
Crop: Strawberries. Rod’s is open longer (8am-8pm) than many berry farms and if mobility is an issue, they provide transportation into the patch. Accepts cash or credit cards.
Shafer: Pleasant Valley Orchard
Crop: PYO strawberries in June thru early July, apples and pumpkins plus harvest activities in the fall. 651-257-9159.
More family fun: The orchard is only 10 minutes away from Taylors Falls, one of our favorite day trip destinations from the Twin Cities. We’ve included Pleasant Valley on our list of TOP THINGS TO DO IN TAYLORS FALLS, MINNESOTA, WITH KIDS.
STILLWATER: Blueberry Fields of Stillwater
Crop: PYO certified organic blueberries starting mid-July through early August.
More family fun: We like to tack a visit to the town of Stillwater onto our berry picking. Younger kids will adore TEDDY BEAR PARK for its giant teddies, train-themed playground equipment, a great climbing. 651-351-0492.
White Bear Lake: Pine Tree Orchard
Crop: PYO strawberries in June. Fall apples are pre-picked but come out to explore the grounds and the apple barn.
More family fun: Fall weekends offer hayrides, a corn maze, and live entertainment. 651-429-7202.
TWIN CITIES SOUTHEAST METRO
Hastings: Afton Apple Orchard
Crop: PYO strawberries mid-June to mid-July, fall raspberries & apples begin in early August. LOTS of activities and entertainment at this orchard (particularly in the fall) so plan to make a day of it. There is no admission fee to pick berries during the summer; come fall the orchard charges a fee $4-$5/pp which includes most of the activities. 651-436-8385.
HASTINGS: WYatt’s strawberries
Crop: Pick-your-own strawberries. The farm prefers you call 651-437-8479 OR check their Facebook page for picking hours and availability.
Northfield: Lorence’s Berry Farm
Crop: Come out and pick your own strawberries (cash or check only).
More family fun: Bring your strawberries as the dessert course to a pizza farm dinner at RED BARN FARM (Wed or Sun only). It’s just down the road from the strawberry patch and included on our list of TWIN CITIES PIZZA FARMS.
TWIN CITIES SOUTHWEST METRO
Delano: Apple Jack Orchards
Crop: Beginning in August, the farm will offer PYO raspberries and fall apples. Check the website for daily updates. LOTS of activities at this busy, very kid-friendly orchard Bring cash for extras! 763-972-6673.
Minnesota Grown Website
Our method for finding these farm gems is a great little tool called the Minnesota Grown website. Maintained by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the website is very user-friendly. You can search for farms by city, zip code or farm name. Or, if you’ve got a hankering for, say, strawberries or some fresh sweet corn, the website allows you to search by produce type as well. Included in the index of farms are independent family farms, farmer’s markets, CSAs, all-organic farms, and farms that sell animal products, textiles, gifts, and landscaping supplies. We also find it a great resource for planning fun family outings – many of the farms offer tours, animal encounters, wagon rides and, particularly in the fall, many other fun activities.
More Ideas for Fun on the Farm: Summer Farm Fun in the Twin Cities