Picking your own strawberries is fun, healthy, educational, but above all just delicious!
Update for 2013: The season has started around mid-April at most farms, and is now in full swing. Some farms may have lower yields due to a virus (the strawberries are still perfectly safe to eat). Most of the reviews from below are from 2012, but still valid for this year; I will add updates and add a few more farms this year as we head out ourselves to get some sweet fruit. For a quick overview, see this year’s blog post.
When to go: Call before you go. The season has started early, and most farmers said it will be over at the end of May. Check specific hours as well, but most are open all day Monday-Saturday and on Sunday afternoon.
What to bring: You’ll be standing in an open field in direct sunlight; sun protection is essential, as well as water for hydration. In case you’ve never seen a strawberry field – don’t bring a stroller.
How to pick: Most farms display this poster here with helpful tips.
I picked farms that are within half an hour from downtown Raleigh, and I list only those that are South of Raleigh. (To the North and West are fewer farms, and they are also close to the urban centers of Chapel Hill, Durham and Wake Forest, and will probably get more visitors and be done sooner.) Click on the farms below to get more information. The first three (Porter satellite, Balls, and Porter main) receive a special Daddy Weekly recommendation. See a map here.
The closest: Porter Farms Ten-Ten Road satellite: No frills but nice, and less than 10 minutes from the beltline. (Even for mid-week after-school jaunts!)
The friendliest: I was at Balls Berries & Produce for only about 10 minutes (was on my way somewhere else), but they were so welcoming that I felt that if I stayed any longer they would make me stay for supper. (Also small and not crowded.)
The all-inclusive one: Porter Farms main location features home-made ice-cream, shaded picnic tables, swings, a sandbox, produce and flowers for sale, oh, and strawberries.
The most remote: Follow a mile-long dead-end street and a gravel road to the back-porch known as Roberts Farm.
The foodiest: Smith Nursery is worth the slightly longer drive, and has a nice selection beyond just strawberries (produce, dairy, meat, flowers, plants), and a quiet scenic location.
The absolutely quietest: One farm that shall not be named appeared to be closed (no signs or anything) when I visited. As a reminder: Do call ahead!
Don’t like strawberries? Missed the season? Dr. Young’s Pond Berry Farm will have Raspberries, Blackberries and Blueberries roughly from June until August.
Last updated on 5/3/2013.