Since I first discovered the earthy goodness of hitting the berry patch for a day of digging in the dirt and coming home with buckets full of freshness, U-Pick food of any kind has ranked right up there.
The simple notion of literally knowing where your food comes from – since most of us aren’t lucky enough to have a backyard capable of housing a giant berry patch – makes letting the kiddos loose to muck it up in the fields all the better. Food always seems to taste better when you have to work a bit for it.
There are so many great U-Pick spots around these parts, thankfully you can click here to find your own U-Pick Farm. But, I have to say that I am mightily impressed with the family-friendliness and tasty goodness of ASH Berry Farm in Royston.
Formerly Dudink’s Show Garden, new owners Don and Louisa McClellan – mentored by Mr. Dudink himself – have continued the berry extravaganza, with strawberry and raspberry crops this year. The best part for parents is that the McClellans are all about sustainable farming so their berries have no insecticides or herbicides – a really important factor since strawberries are among the most heavily sprayed fruits in the world (and it’s nearly impossible to wash off pesticides from berries).
ASH Berry is more than a U-Pick patch. It’s a farm experience. The McClellans are all about family – with their kiddos helping out and puppies greeting visitors with piles of kisses and cold noses. The pigs hanging out in their pen at the back of the acreage are silly about company (but be careful of the electrified pen fence). Not to mention the field guides out directing the berry picking show are not only charming and warm, but truly all about helping you get the most out of a day in the berry patches.
This is truly an adventure in farming for the McClellans as they retool and experiment with running a farm and I love that when you go out there you are guaranteed a chance to chat with either Don or Louisa, meet the kids and watch as this working farm evolves.
The kiddos and I headed out there bright and early Monday morning to find the fields already bustling, but well managed and easily accessed. We brought our own bucket and stopped in to get it weighed before heading into the patch. Then, pretty much lost track of time and all signs of Monday-morning grumpies as we picked and snacked, laughed and chatted with fellow pickers.
Our nephew (he’s 5) really got into the picking and collecting part, filling the bucket as fast as possible. Our daughter (she’s 2) pretty much used the morning as a snacking adventure – which I eventually gave up on trying to stop as the field guides chuckled and encouraged the ungodly amounts of strawberry scarfing taking place.
And, at $1.88 a pound, we stocked up.
It’s been a tough season for them (along with a lot of local growers) as the sun-dependent berries haven’t seen much of that yellow disk in the sky this year. But, the berries that are ready for eating out there are Fan-Tastic, juicy bundles of goodness.
ASH Berry Farm is at 3210 Royston Road, about a 10-minute haul up the road from the turn off the Old Island Highway (at the lights in Royston) and is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays (at the discretion of the McClellans depending on what’s happening with the berries).
Grab a bucket, wear shoes and pants that are in the mood for some serious dirt, and watch the smiles blossom on your family’s faces.
ASH Berry Farm is definitely a family-friendly treat not to miss.