Heading out to a farm and picking your own produce is a great summer activity with kids. They’ll love the chance to pick (and eat!) their favorite fruits and vegetables, and they’ll learn a bit about where their food comes from in the process. Plus it’s a great chance to get everybody outside and enjoying the summer weather. Read on for our top five tips on making your pick-your-own experience a success, plus recommendations of pick your own farms to love in the Front Royal area.
1. Pick What You’ll Eat
This one might seem obvious, but when you’re faced with a field full of delicious looking fruit, it’s easy to get carried away. Focus on planning your outing around fruit you know you’ll still enjoy when you get it home. Your kids will probably enjoy the outing more if they’re picking a favorite food too.
As well as picking what you like, it’s also a good idea to keep in mind how much you’ll be able to eat when you get it home. It’s easy to pick a lot in the field and feel overwhelmed when it’s in your kitchen. We have some more tips below on using up excess, but it’s good to plan ahead too to minimize waste.
2. Call or Check Social Media before Heading Out
Farming (and public fruit picking!) are not completely predictable, and supply at a pick-your-own farm varies from day to day. It’s a good idea to call the farm before you get there to make sure they have fruit available for picking. Many pick your own farms will also post updates on their social media pages so you can make sure there’s fruit available and avoid disappointment. The good news is that there are so many pick your own farms in Front Royal you should be able to find another one if your first choice is picked out.
3. Pack a Picnic
Farms are beautiful places, especially around Front Royal, with views of the Blue Ridge Mountains all around. Plan for being able to take it slow and enjoy your surroundings when you get there. Most pick-your-own farms welcome visitors to bring picnics and enjoy their time in the fields. Bring foods that’ll tasted good with whatever you’re picking for maximum picnic success! Pair whipped cream and shortcake cookies with strawberries or peaches, or bring cheese and crackers on your apple picking expedition.
4. Be Prepared for the Heat
It’s hard for kids to remember to take care of themselves when they’re outdoors in the sun and busy having fun. But summer’s heat in Virginia is something to take seriously. There’s nothing fun about starting to feel sick in the middle of an outing. To help prevent heat-related problems, make sure everyone wears hats. Be sure to pack water bottles or electrolyte drinks such as Gatorade or coconut water and hydrate frequently.
4. Get Creative with Your Haul
Even if you limit yourself when you’re out picking, it’s still likely you’ll get home and find that what you’ve brought looks like a lot more on your kitchen table than it did in the field. Don’t give in to overwhelm and let it go bad before you can eat it. Having surplus fruit can be a great learning experience for everyone. Trying baking up a fruit dessert together. Cobblers and crisps are classic favorites that are both simple and healthy. You can even eat the leftovers with yogurt for a yummy and nutritious breakfast. Or take the chance to teach kids about fruit preservation (and enjoy your pickings for much longer!) You can preserve fruit by making jams and jellies and canning them, or for a super easy solution freeze your haul and save it for smoothies and more!
Where to Pick Your Own in Front Royal
If you’re ready to get started picking your own produce, Front Royal is a great place to be! Hartland Orchard is a popular option that’s easy to access (and find!) from I-66, although it can be crowded. Hollins Farm is a slightly further drive, but it’s great option with lots of variety, including pick your own veggies as well as fruits, and even dig-your-own peanuts! And Valley View Farm is a great place to spend a whole day with opportunities for farm tours, local cider and wine tasting, and more! For peaches and apples in a scenic setting that’s a bit more removed from the hustle and bustle, try Stribling Orchard. It’s a beautiful place to pick your own and enjoy a picnic.
Flowers aren’t (usually) edible, but they’re still fun to pick. Head to Clover Hill Farm to enjoy pick your own a different way, with gorgeous blooms available to pick spring through fall. Sign up for a kids class too, and you can pick flowers and learn more about gardening all at the same time.
Picking your own fruit and flowers is a great activity for kids and adults in the warmer weather. If you’re around the Front Royal area, you’re in a great place to take the family out and pick, with loads of options to find the farm that’s perfect for you. Follow our tips and head on out there for a day of delicious, educational fun!
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