For those who need something fun and different to do on the weekends, picking your own fresh and seasonal fruit is always a great idea. It’s a fun activity for both grown-ups and kids alike. And with fresh fruit farms as close as an hour-long drive away, now’s the time to stock up on u-pick blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and more. Whether these berries are for smoothies, pies, that morning açai bowl, or something else is up to you – you can even get a little crazy and throw a few berries in your Sunday brunch champagne for some added fun!
This time of year is prime time for delicious fruits like blueberries and blackberries. If you’re lucky enough, the same fields that house yummy berry bushes might also have other fruits ripe and ready to go, like peaches. Read on to find out where to go berry picking near Essex County this summer.
The Benefits of Eating Locally – And In Season
Many have undoubtedly heard it before — eat locally, eat seasonally. But for those wondering why there are many reasons why eating locally is better for both personal health and for the environment. Here are just a few:
- – It reduces the need for “extra” resources (water, shipping costs/equipment)
- – It supports the local economy (money goes directly to the people growing it rather than small percentages of different hands involved in moving and shipping it)
- – There is a higher nutrient count
- – It encourages more biodiversity
- – Eating locally + seasonally often contains fewer chemicals (even if it’s not organic)
As mentioned above, locally-grown, in-season produce generally has a higher nutrient count. As a general rule, local foods are fresher. Think about it – they’re grown nearby, so farmers don’t need to pack, ship, or freeze them around the country in order to get where they’re going. All those processes tend to reduce a food’s nutrients.
Read More: 4 Lavender Fields to Visit This Summer
The Health Benefits of Eating Berries
As for blackberries, these high-in-fiber berries are beneficial to our health, too. Blackberries are also sufficient in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese, making them crucial to improving brain health and function, preventing oral disease and infection, healing wounds, regenerating the skin and encouraging collagen production, and so much more.
With both blueberries and blackberries super high in fiber, you might be wondering why fiber matters so much to our health. A 2013 study determined that not getting enough fiber increases a person’s risk for developing heart disease. One cup of berries has about eight grams of fiber. Not sure how much fiber you should be getting to begin with? Fiber intake has a lot to do with different factors like age, sex, and weight but as a general rule, women should have an intake of at least 25 grams and men should get about 38 grams of fiber per day.
Strawberry, Blueberry, + Blackberry Fields Near Essex County
Now that we’ve established the many benefits of berries (and eating locally and seasonally), find out which fields and farms near Essex County offer blueberry and blackberry picking this time of year.
Alstede Farms | 1 Alstede Farms Lane, Chester, NJ
(Photo credit: @alstedefarms)
This fruit-picking farm in Chester, New Jersey is just about an hour away from Jersey City and the Mile Square. And wow, is it worth the ride. Alstede’s fields are open daily to the public and it’s the perfect time to pick-your-own juicy strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries. It’s open 9AM – 6PM every weekday and 9AM – 7PM on weekends.
Battleview Orchards | 91 Wemrock Road, Freehold
(Photo credit: @bvorchards)
Battleview Orchards has awesome u-pick strawberries (as well as nectarines, if you want to bulk up your fruit-picking). It’s open 9AM to 6PM every day but Tuesday, when it’s closed. Its Facebook page is a great resource to see which produce is ripe for the picking. Sour cherry season (usually June and July) is a highlight for the farm, and bakers love this kind of fruit for delicious recipes.
Farms View Roadstand | 945 Black Oak Ridge Road, Wayne
(Photo credit: @farmsviewroadstand)
This family-owned farm is a farmers market and garden center that offers strawberry picking for the season. The farm grows over sixty different fruits and vegetables, sells everything you need for your garden, and even has baked goods and preserves. Go for the strawberries but come home with a great farm experience — and maybe some extra plants. The farm is open 9AM to 6PM Monday to Saturday and 9AM to 5PM on Sunday.
Greig Farm | 227 Pitcher Lane, Red Hook, NY
(Photo credit: @greig_farm)
Located around two hours outside of Hoboken, Greig Farms in Red Hook, NY is open for blueberry-picking seven days a week from 10AM-7PM. Also at Greig Farms in the Hudson Valley, you’ll find a Farm Market, open daily from 10AM- 7PM. We’ll be the first to admit it is a bit of a trek, so if for those who would rather make it a weekend-long vacation, that’s also an option.
Happy Day Farm | 106 Iron Ore Road, Manalapan Township
(Photo credit: @happydayfarmnj)
This delightfully named farm is relatively new to Manalapan Township. Established in 2012, the family-owned property offers pick-your-own blueberries and raspberries. It’s also known for its scenic lavender field and sunflower picking. Just keep in mind that farm purchases are cash only. It opens back up on June 11th for both lavender viewing and raspberry picking. Blueberry picking will open in late June.
Hillview Farms | 223 Meyersville Road, Gillette, NJ
A mere 45-minute drive outside of Hoboken and Jersey City, you’ll stumble upon Hillview Farms in Gillette, NJ. There you’ll have over 53-acres of locally grown fruit to peruse. According to Hillview’s schedule, they have blueberries ready and willing to be picked from July. By August, the farm might already be transitioning to peaches, but it’s worth calling ahead to check out their current supply. The farm has a $5 entry fee per person, but children under the age of three can enter for free.
Hillview has a Farm Market open every day from 9AM-6PM, where it sells everything from fresh broccoli and potatoes to honey, tomatoes, and zinnia. The market asks that customers please wear masks while inside the market. The public picking fields close each day at 5PM, so plan accordingly. You can also purchase firewood at Hillview. You know, if you’re into that sort of thing.
See More: You Must Visit These New Jersey Flower Farms
Ochs Orchard | 4 Ochs Lane, Warwick, NY
(Photo credit: @ochsorchard1591)
About an hour and a half out of the city, there’s Ochs Orchard in Warwick, New York. While Ochs always recommends calling ahead of time to see what pickable produce they have available — everything is subject to availability, after all — the farm generally has an abundance of plums, peaches, and blueberries this time of year. Ochs’ phone number is (845) 986-1591.
Snyder’s Farm | 586 S. Middlebush Road, Summerset
(Photo credit: @snydersfarmnj)
Snyder’s Farm in Summerset offers U-Pick strawberries on weekends in early June. Then, weeks later, it opens for U-Pick blueberries, an authentic summer experience that children love. Later in the summer, it also has U-Pick of the Aronia berries, aka Choke berries, considered a new super berry full of vitamins and minerals packed with more antioxidants than blueberries. You can check the Facebook page for open times, as they’re subject to change.
Solebury Orchards | 3325 Creamery Road, New Hope, PA
(Photo credit: @soleburyorchards)
Located in the lush Bucks County, Solebury is known for its beautiful setting and high-quality produce. Customers can pick their own blueberries when in season around the end of June. Solebury also started offering cherries for U-Pick. The farm is not open until mid-June, so sit tight and check for opening updates here.