Looking for an off-the-beaten-path adventure for the kids this summer? Why not take advantage of berry-picking season! With several North Texas family farms located just an hour or two away, berry picking offers kids an unusual experience they’ll be talking about for days, as well as a lesson on where food comes from that moms and dads appreciate.“Helping kids to understand where our food comes from and what it looks like in it’s natural state — whether growing underground, ripening on a vine, or laying in a henhouse — helps to give them an appreciation for food, where it comes from, and what’s healthy to eat,” says Caroline Susie, Manager of Employee Wellness for Methodist Health System.
Do it for the Children
Visiting a farm and picking berries also stimulates kids’ natural curiosity. “Kids are experiential beings, and picking berries is a little like hunting for treasure. They learn which berries to pick, eat them right off the vine, and come home with a basket of fruit they gathered themselves — complete with dirt under their little purple fingernails,” explains Susie. “This gives kids a great opportunity to explore their world on many levels, from touching and tasting to seeing and smelling.”
Research shows that when children are involved in selecting and preparing food, their minds are more open to exploring different flavors. “They can taste the difference between local food grown in season in good soil and picked at peak maturity and what you find in the grocery store,” says Susie. “And that the weird-shaped tomato tastes even better than the perfectly round one in the store.”
As children experiment more with fresh foods, they’ll start to prefer healthier choices, like oatmeal topped with fresh blueberries instead of packaged, processed berry-flavored cereal.
After visiting the farm and experiencing how the berries are grown, learning can continue in the kitchen, helping wash then freeze some of the berries for later use and preparing recipes like berry lemonade, ice cream, jams and preserves, muffins, turnovers, and pies.
Plan for Your Berry-picking Adventure
Before heading out with your family, here are some tips:
- Call first to make sure there are plenty of berries to pick. You can also confirm the times the farm is open, find out if they accept credit cards, and get directions. Most don’t allow pets, so if you want to bring Fido, ask first.
- Fields typically have little shade, so dress for the heat with a hat, shorts, loose shirt, sunglasses, and lots of sunscreen. Closed-toe shoes are a must.
- Bring a cooler for your berries and water, snacks, and — for younger kids — some alternative toys like bubbles. You’ll probably want to have wipes for cleaning hands and a change of clothes, especially for the kids.
- Most farms provide boxes or baskets, but you can also bring your own.
- Typically, farms don’t mind if kids eat as they pick, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
Berry-picking Farms in North Texas
Gnismer Farms – located in southwest Arlington, this 10-acre farm offers a box that holds up to six pounds of berries for $2.50 a pound. You can buy already-picked berries for $3 a pound, as well as other fruits and veggies.
3010 S. Bowen Road, firstname.lastname@example.org, 817-469-8704
The Merry Berry Farm – located just 30 minutes from downtown Dallas, this blackberry farm is open on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday.
4608 Shepherd Lane, themerryberryfarm.farmvisit.com, 972-286-2287
The Greer Farm – this northeast Texas farm about 2½ hours from Dallas has been continuously operational since its founding in the mid-19th century. The 400-acre farm and ranch includes a 9-acre blueberry and blackberry farm, and berry-picking season runs through the third week of July. Pick-your-own berries are $3 per pound, and the farm provides buckets that can hold about 5 pounds. Prepicked berries are $38 for a flat of 12 pints (call at least one day in advance to reserve). They also sell jams, sauces, breads, free-range eggs, and meats. Cash, check, and credit cards are accepted.
1444 County Road 1125, www.greerfarm.com, 903-645-3232
Blueberry Hill Farms – located about an hour and a half east of Dallas and open daily June 13 through July 22, this 10-acre farm also teaches how bees cross-pollinate the rows of berries. The general store sells blueberry jam and preserves, ice cream, and lemonade and the bakery is full of freshly made pies, muffins, and turnovers. Hint: late afternoon sunsets are incredible. Pick-yourself berries are $10 for a half peck (approximately 9 pints).
FM 314 Edom, blueberryhillfarms.com, 903-852-6175
The Blueberry Farm – located 1 hour and 45 minutes east of Dallas, this farm is open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week through July 31 and has a big crop of blueberries. The general store sells already-picked blueberries, homemade jams and jellies, and fresh blueberry ice cream, and the farm has blueberry plants and fig trees for sale. Cash or check only.
982 TX-37, the-blueberry-farm.com, 903-497-6028
Bailey’s Berry Patch – about 1½ hours north of Dallas, this 15-plus-acre farm has 5½ acres of blueberries and 3½ acres of blackberries, as well as 120 fruit and nut trees, including apple and pear. Berry-picking hours are Tuesdays through Thursdays and Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. through the end of July. Gallon-size buckets are $14 and prepicked berries are $20. The farm accepts cash, check, and credit cards, and you can also buy pickles, preserves, jams, jellies, and more. Family Day at Bailey’s, a free event on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., includes storytelling, hayrides, and face painting.
905 Crawford Road, www.txberry.com, 903-564-6228
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