By Patricia Hall, FairfaxFamilyFun.com
Strawberry season has come early this year, and it’s time to go pick them fresh in the fields! If you never have tasted freshly picked strawberries, you are missing out on the most delicious, juiciest, sweetest treats! Store-bought, commercial berries can’t match the flavor of the fresh, local kind! Just look at all these photos… these are not stock images but pictures from the strawberries we actually picked!
Northern Virginia has several places for “pick your own” or “U-pick” strawberries, and once again Wegmeyer Farms is giving our readers an incentive to try these healthy, fresh-from-the farm goodies: a 25 percent discount on your purchase! This year Wegmeyer also is introducing a strawberry wine produced with a local winery.
Whether you’re picking a pint or two of strawberries to eat fresh or a large amount for cooking and canning, you will have an opportunity to buy just what you want. At Wegmeyer Farms, the fields are now open for picking! To get your 25 percent discount for Fairfax Family Fun readers, just visit on any weekday (Monday-Friday) this season at one of their three locations. There is no charge to visit, and you only pay for what you pick, so you can save money. The picking hours for all locations are usually between 9 am and 6 pm. Occasionally, they have extended hours, so you can always call 540-751-1782 to confirm times for the day when you want to go.
Wegmeyer Farms has three U-pick locations in Northern Virginia:
- Hamilton, VA, boutique farm setting – Tucked away on back roads of Lincoln (between Purcellville and Leesburg) at a historic homestead, this farm provides the most scenic views of rolling farmlands. The location has picnic tables for you to bring your own lunch or enjoy refreshments available for sale. After you pick berries, kids can play on the John Deere tractor slide and playground. Address: 38299 Hughesville Road, Hamilton, VA.
- Historic Oatlands – The strawberry patch and era-themed attire at this historic mansion will whisk you back to the 1800s. While visiting the strawberry patch is free, you can make a full day of it by purchasing tour passes for the historical garden and/or mansion in addition to strawberry picking. Address: 20850 Oatlands Plantation Lane, Leesburg, VA.
- Gilbert’s Corner – Enjoy strawberry picking in its most natural state. This no-fuss location is perfect for a simple outing. Parking is available onsite. Address: The Intersection of Route 15 and Route 50 in Aldie, VA.
Making the most of its bounty, Wegmeyer Farms is introducing a Sparkling Strawberry Wine this year. The new offering is in partnership with Fabbioli Cellars, also of Loudoun County. Fabbioli makes award-wining wines, including some fruit wines, so this is a natural fit.
Packed with nutrients and antioxidants, strawberries are one of the most nutritious and popular you-pick fruits in our area. One thing that’s always bugged me about store-bought berries is that they often end up on lists such the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” because of pesticide use and cleanliness issues. I’m glad to learn that the fresh, local berries at Wegmeyer are safe to eat straight off the vine, and in fact, many of the farmers, their kids, and visitors do just that! The farm’s strawberries are grown on raised plastic beds, which keeps the berries clean and dirt-free, and which makes for easier picking, too.
Strawberry-picking also is great family activity that provides a fun and educational way to spend time outdoors with kids. Children get to see the strawberries at various stages of growth (even though you’re picking in an area full of ripe berries, you occasionally come across a few not ready to be picked) and get some real hands-on farm work. Back home, you can use the strawberries to talk about nutrition and local farming, and try new recipes. You even can “pay it forward” by canning or cooking and sharing the goodies with relatives and friends.
Planning a visit? See our tips below.
- Strawberry-picking season is May and June. It’s a good idea to call the strawberry field hotline at 540-751-1782 to check field conditions before heading out to any of the farm’s locations.
- Stretch before and during your picking: when you’re picking strawberries you are low to the ground and doing a repetitive motion to reach for the fruit, so take good care to avoid back pain later.
- The 25% discount for Fairfax Family Fun readers is only good Monday-Friday, and only for the strawberry picking, not other purchases or tours.
- Wegmeyer offers one-gallon picking containers which you will get when you check in at the strawberry hut. Berries are sold by the pound ($3.99) and you pay only for what you pick.
- See the Wegmeyer website for tips on best times to pick (early or late in the day), what to wear (red or dark colors), how to transport the berries, and more.
All images (c) P. Hall
Disclosure: My family received pick-your-own sessions and a wine tasting in exchange for this promotion. The writing and opinions here are my own.