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.
JUNE STRAWBERRY PICKING
Some Twin Cities pick-your-own farms to keep in mind for June that make a great day trip: Pleasant Valley Orchard 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. I’ve also heard good things about Natura Farms of Marine on St. Croix, Pine Tree Orchard of White Bear Lake and we’ve enjoyed the free-range chickens that wander Sam Kedem Nursery & Garden of Hastings.
JULY RASPBERRY & 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.
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.
Frogtown Farm Park holds Community Celebrations on the second Thursday of every month from 4pm to 7pm (June through October). Kids can learn a little bit about farming with hands-on activities and try some farm-fresh vegetables.
SEPTEMBER PICK-YOUR-OWN APPLE ORCHARDS
As for pick-your-own apples, the fun to be had out at local Twin Cities orchards deserves dedicated posts of its own — and you can find them here in the West Metro, East Metro, South Metro and North Metro — along with all kinds of recommendations for fall family fun.
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.
TWIN CITIES NORTHWEST METRO
Berry Hill Farm | Anoka, MN | 763-753-5891
Crop: Strawberries, raspberries, and rhubarb during the summer season starting mid-June. Fall brings the pumpkin patch and activities on the weekends.
D Round Barn Berries | St Michael, MN | 612-237-8443
Crop: Exclusively strawberries.
TWIN CITIES NORTHEAST METRO
Blueberry Fields of Stillwater | Stillwater, MN | (651) 351-0492
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.
Natura Farms | Marine St Croix, MN | (651) 433-5850
Crop: PYO strawberries in June, fall raspberries, plus more varieties of berries and fruits.
More family fun: This farm is literally five minutes away from a wide sandy beach on Big Marine Lake. We’ve included Big Marine in our 20 Best Twin Cities Beaches & Playgrounds.
Pleasant Valley Orchard | Shafer, MN | (651) 257-9159
Crop: PYO strawberries in June thru early July, apples and pumpkins plus harvest activities in the fall.
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 With Kids in Taylors Falls.
Pine Tree Orchard | White Bear Lake, MN | (651) 429-7202
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.
The Berry Patch | Forest Lake, MN | (651) 433-3448
Crop: PYO strawberries in June, raspberries & blueberries in July. You can get hours of operation and prices on their website.
Waldoch Farm Garden Center | Lino Lakes, MN | (651) 780-1207
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.
TWIN CITIES SOUTHEAST METRO
Afton Apple Orchard | Hastings, MN | (651) 436-8385
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.
Sam Kedem Nursery & Garden | Hastings, MN | (651) 437-7516
Crop: Call to check availability of strawberries, red raspberries and now blueberries. Check the website for updates.
TWIN CITIES SOUTHWEST METRO
Apple Jack Orchards | Delano, MN | (763) 972-6673
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!
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
Twin Cities Farmers Markets
For more tips on where to score fresh, locally-grown produce and entertain the whole family, try our list of 10 Family-Friendly Twin Cities Farmers Markets!