Fresh strawberry season is wrapping up for many farms in the area. Please check farms website/Facebook for picking schedule before attending. For many farms this will be the last weekend of PYO strawberries, so head out while you still can!
Kids love strawberry-picking (and eating) so bring them along to the fields. It's a special experience to actually show them how our food is grown and harvested. Helping to pick a fruit or veggie may even encourage picky kids to taste them. (Hey, whatever works!)
Here are some tips from Ellen Parlee at Parlee Farms to help make your picking experience the best for your family and for the delicate plants on the farm:
- Strawberries should be pinched on the stem, just above the leaves, not pulled off the plant or twisted, since this can harm the plant. This means that kids who are picking need to have a well-developed "pincer grasp". Most children have this after 12 months but may not have a strong grasp until 2 or 3. As strawberries are one of the harder crops to pick, children should always be close to their grownup to learn how to pick.
- Strawberry plant rows are usually 1-2 feet apart, so strollers do no fit in the rows. Unless the field is very crowded, most parents set their stroller right at the edge of the field and pick nearby with older children. Another option is to go picking with a friend, and each of you can take turns staying next to the strollers.
- Examine each strawberry on all sides carefully before picking. Strawberries don't ripen any further after picking, so be sure it's a good one before you pinch the stem! If there are unripe spots, leave it on the stem to continue ripening.
- Pick as early in the day as possible. It will be cooler for you, the sun will not be as strong, and the berries will be firmer and less squishy after a cool night. Most strawberry farms open by 8 AM. Don't forget hats, sunscreen and sunglasses on bright, sunny days!
- Always check the farm's website, if they have one, before heading out to see what the daily conditions are like. Sometimes picking hours are limited, or they may even close the fields for a day or two to allow more strawberries to ripen. At Parlee Farms, the website, Facebook page, and voicemail are updated every morning with current conditions and prices. Look for "Today's Farm News".
- A sample or two is OK but please put most of your berries in the basket! Pick-your-own farms rely on the honor system. Please put most of your fruit in the basket, pay, and then enjoy. The kitchen staff at Parlee Farms is happy to wash your berries so that you can enjoy them at the picnic tables after purchase.
- We love animals, but unfortunately, for food safety reasons we do not allow pets on the farm. Please leave your pets at home when visiting the farm.
Thanks to our sponsor Parlee Farms! The support of our sponsors allows us to continue to offer Macaroni KID Lowell at no cost to you! Read more about Parlee Farms below and please support local farms like Parlee Farms whenever you can!
LOCAL STRAWBERRY-PICKING GUIDE
A beautiful sunny Spring means a gorgeous and early strawberry harvest! See the guide below for Pick-Your-Own locations and information. Most local farm stands also have quarts of fresh strawberries, if pick-your-own isn't your thing. Be sure to scroll down for local Strawberry Festival details!
Parlee's Farm, 135 Pine Hill Rd, Chelmsford. 978-256-2859
(Note: this is a different farm than Parlee Farms in Tyngsboro.)
Pre-picked strawberries are available at farm stand. No strawberry pick your own available.
Farmer Dave's, 437 Parker Rd, Dracut 978-454-3434
Strawberry picking usually starts mid-June on weekends only. Pre-picked strawberries are also available at the farm stand.
Spring Brook Farm, 2 Bruce St, Littleton 978-486-3249
The Bruce St location is separate from the Great Rd farm. Stop in at 2 Bruce St to pick strawberries and shop fresh produce at the Barn farm stand.
Tougas Family Farm, 234 Ball St, Northborough 508-393-6406
Strawberry Season at Tougas Family Farm has begun, and generally lasts through early July. Picking at Touhas Family Farm can be a whole day of fun! After picking, enjoy farm fresh homemade baked goods, apple cider donuts, and ice cream at the Tougas Farm Kitchen, and then visit the barnyard to see the goats climb their mountain of stone.Plus, their barnyard, playground, and farm kitchen are great activities for young kids to enjoy.
Kimball Fruit Farm, 184 Hollis St (Rt. 122), Pepperell. 978-433-9751
Strawberry PYO season runs mid-June through early July, with the best picking usually the latter half of June). Check their Facebook page for the latest picking conditions. Quarts of freshly-picked fruit are already available at the farm stand.
Kimball Fruit Farm practices Integrated Pest Management which results in a reduced use of chemicals. They offer pick-your-own strawberries, raspberries and apples and have a farm stand with a wide variety of produce grown on-site.
Farmer Dave's East Street Farm Stand, 460 East St, Tewksbury 978-851-2048
Limited strawberry picking usually starts mid-June on weekends only. Pre-picked strawberries are also available at the farm stand.
Parlee Farms, 95 Farwell Rd, Tyngsborough 978-649-3854
Do you know of another local farm that offers strawberry picking? Let us know via email!
LOCAL STRAWBERRY FESTIVALS
Saturday, June 17th from 10 AM - 3 PM
Westford Strawberry N' Arts Festival
47th Annual Strawberry ‘N’ Arts Festival will be held on the historic Westford Common. Vendors, live music and entertainment, food, and strawberry shortcake (sale begins at 12:30, but be sure to get it early before they run out!)
Saturday, June 24th from 10 AM - 2 PM
50th Annual Strawberry Festival
Old Schoolhouse, Dunstable
Enjoy homemade Strawberry Shortcake, crafts and vendors! The strawberries are local!
Thanks again to Parlee Farms for keeping Macaroni KID Lowell a free resource for families!
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