At the beginning of summer, I requested a list from each kid of activities and places they wanted to visit over their magical nine weeks off. Some items (swimming, ice cream) were easy peasy and have already been crossed off many times over. Others I may avoid most of the summer!
Berry picking was on the list and something I wanted to make sure we didn’t miss. Last year, I was too late to the game (think late August) and the only berries my kids ate were those purchased at the grocery store. I was determined to see the U-pick dream realized this time around.
Every once in a while, the heavens bless us with a wonderful weekend day where we don’t have approximately 120 things to juggle. This past Sunday was one of those days. I started with a simple google search of where our day could lead and I came across Awald Farms. hey had an easy site to navigate, were open on Sundays, close to the Southtowns, very reasonable pricing, and what seemed like the perfect set-up. It exceeded my expectations, which are usually high. Just ask my husband.
We arrived with our own baskets in hand that were then weighed and stickered. The weight of the baskets was deducted from our final price. They also had containers for purchase if you show up empty handed. The staff was very friendly and told us about the berries available for picking, which included Blueberries, Red Raspberries, Purple Raspberries, Black Raspberries, Blackberries, and a limited amount of strawberries.
Our questions about the best berries to pick were answered with a variety of samples to taste. Our taste test confirmed that blueberries and the traditional red raspberries would be our targets. Each variety requires its own container, so berries could not be mixed.
Off to the fields we went (minus two separate trips to the Port-O-Potty, consider yourself warned). Plants and rows available for picking were clearly labeled. Although there were other people there, it was not crowded. For two solid hours, we picked berries and enjoyed our time together. My daughter was small enough to immerse herself into a bush and could often be heard yelling “jackpot!” We never once heard “I’m bored,” and they never quit on us either. Parenting win!
Some quick tips:
- Check hours and info. We went right in the middle of the day. I think next time around, I would prefer to beat the heat and get there earlier. You can also view current u-pick fruit selections on their website. They even suggest you call for up-to-the-minute picking conditions.
- Have a plan on what you might need and how you will use the fruits of your labor. I had extra containers and freezer bags ready to go at home.
- Bring water bottles. They do have a vending machine and a cute little café if needed. Hard work= thirsty kids.
- Dress appropriately. Maybe this is obvious but play clothes only for adults and kids. I saw a few blueberry bums throughout my visit. Also make sure to wear sunscreen and bug spray and be mindful about the potty situation. (I have now warned you twice.) I wore flip-flops, which was probably not the best choice. I would have been more comfortable in sneakers.
- Enjoy. I feel grateful to live in a place where this delicious fruit is so accessible. We really appreciated the family time and my kids were excited to have their “berry surprise” with breakfast this morning.
After both baskets were filled, we went back to the check-out area and paid for our berries. We picked nearly 11 pounds and paid under $25. I thought this pricing was fantastic and well worth our efforts. My kids (ages 10 and 5) ate this entire experience up, and I mean that both figuratively and literally! We even hope to get back before the end of summer to do it again.
WRITTEN BY STACEY
Stacey Marks moved back to Buffalo with her family in 2015 after a ten year hiatus in PA. She has a day job as a marketing professional in Corporate America. The rest of her time is spent resisting the urge to micromanage the daily lives of her husband and two kids.