Summer means fruit you can pick
By Annie Alleman For Sun-Times Media June 7, 2012 11:06AM
Berry picking is offered at many farms in the suburban Chicago area. | SUN-TIMES MEDIA FILE
Updated: June 25, 2012 4:20PM
While most people were enjoying the freakishly warm March weather, Illinois farmers were concerned.
The extended warmth — days of 80-degree temperatures — caused plants to bloom early. Then came April, with its much more normal temperatures, including a few nights where the thermometer dipped below the freezing mark.
The freeze shocked the fledgling plants, said horticultural professor Mosbah Kushad with the University of Illinois Extension Service.
“The freeze was really bad for a lot of growers,” he said. “April 11 and 12 were the biggest problem. We had two nights of really bad weather. Within four hours, we were down to about 28 degrees in Champaign. And usually when you get very warm weather and all of a sudden it cools down quickly, you get a lot more damage.”
This may not be a good year for crops, he admitted. However, if crops were covered in time or if they hadn’t bloomed yet, they could still be OK, he said.
So before you go out and pick berries, make sure you check beforehand to ensure the orchard or farm’s supply.
Meanwhile, here’s a handy guide to what’s good and where to find it this summer.
Bronkberry Farms: 18108 S. Bronk Road, Plainfield. (815) 436-6967. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. bronkberryfarms.com. Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday. This new farm in Plainfield hopes to have fresh blueberries for picking this year (in addition to vegetables and sweet corn.) Cash and check accepted.
Cody’s Farm: 19502 River Road, Marengo. (815) 482-4125 or (815) 276-3798. E-mail: email@example.com. codysfarm.com. The farm’s annual Strawberry Festival will be June 9-10. The Strawberry Festival will include free hayrides to the strawberry patch, lots of strawberry-related foods and drinks, family activities and craft vendors. The fields are currently open for you-pick. Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Cash and check accepted.
Garden Patch Farms and Orchard: 14154 W. 159th St., Homer Glen. (708) 301-7720. www.gardenpatchfarms.com. Hours: 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Pick-your-own blackberries, cherries, currants, gooseberries, raspberries or strawberries; check website for exact ripening dates. It costs $5 per person (including children) plus the price per pound for whatever you pick. (Strawberries ripen in June.) The farm provides baskets or wagons to haul your bounty back. Call ahead to see if what you’re looking for is available.
Grace Farm Studios: 2719 Franklinville Road, Woodstock. (815) 790-8895. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday by appointment. Closed Sunday and Monday. This farm offers several varieties of raspberries, but they recommend you call in advance for availability. There is no admission or parking fee. Raspberries continue through the first frost. Cash, check, Visa and MasterCard accepted.
Greenfield Farms: 0S951 Green Road, Elburn. Email Berries@andersale.com. Hours: 8 a.m. to dusk daily. Their raspberries are usually ready for picking in mid-August. Cash or check accepted. Bring your own picking basket or bucket and save.
Guelde Strawberries: E 1525th Road, Earlville. (815) 246-9609. gueldestrawberries.com. This strawberry farm typically has berries through June. Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily except for Tuesday. The cost is $1.40 per pound for pick-your-own. They provide quart boxes.
Heider’s Berry Farm: 1100 North Queen Anne Road, Woodstock. (815) 338-0301. Hours: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily as long as berries are available. Strawberries will go from about June 10 to July 4; raspberries from about July 4 to Aug. 1 and again from about Aug. 25 to the first frost. Call ahead for each day’s picking conditions and availability. Cash and check accepted.
Knutson’s Country Harvest: 13550 Townhouse Road, Newark. (815) 695-5905 or (815) 557-4630. E-mail email@example.com, visit knutsonsharvest.com, and find the farm on Facebook as well. Hours: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday until the first hard frost. Strawberries available for you-pick in mid-June, with blueberries and black raspberries starting in early July and blackberries in August. They also sell homemade pies, relish, pickles, honey and jams. Cash, check, credit cards accepted.
McCann Berry Farm: 18110 Kishwaukee Valley Road, Woodstock. (815) 568-8810. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Strawberries are usually available in June, but call ahead for picking conditions. Cash and check accepted.
Olive Berry Acres: 2575 W. Mine Road, Mazon. (815) 474-6511. oliveberryacres.com. E-mail email@example.com. Hours: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Closed Monday. Olive Berry Acres offers red and purple strawberries through early June for you-pick and pre-pick. There are also red, yellow, purple and black raspberries available from late June through the first frost. Three of the farm’s strawberry varieties were developed by owner Nik Weber’s brother, Courtney Weber, of Cornell University. The newest strawberry variety available for harvest, Jewel, is a mid-season berry that will extend the strawberry season a few weeks. Customers are encouraged to check their website or Facebook page to make sure items are available. Pre-picked items are sold by the unit and you-pick items are sold by the pound. You can also pre-order items. Checks and cash accepted.
Prairie Sky Orchard: 4914 N Union Road, Union. (815) 923-4834. prairieskyorchard.com. Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily in September and October. This orchard will have raspberries ripe for picking come early September through the first frost. Cash, check and credit cards accepted.
Royal Oak Farm Orchard: 15908 Hebron Road, Harvard. (815) 648-4141. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. royaloakfarmorchard.com. Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday August through November. This orchard has blackberries and raspberries for picking, as well as honey from hives on the farm, pre-picked produce, a gift shop, snacks and refreshment stand, restrooms and more. Raspberries and blackberries are available from mid-August through the end of September. The berries cost $6/pint and $60/flat (12 pints) for you-pick, and $7/pint and $70/flat for pre-pick (call ahead for pre-picked). Many times, berry picking is only available Saturdays so call ahead or check the website. No admission fee Monday through Friday; $3 fee per car Saturdays and holidays after Labor Day. Cash, check, Visa, MasterCard and Discover accepted.
Robbins’ Raspberries: 11802 Fox River Drive, Newark. (815) 695-9563. robbinsraspberries.com. Hours: 3 to 6 p.m. weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekends or by appointment. This farm offers red raspberries and blackberries for you-pick, starting with blackberries in mid-July. Raspberries will be ready in mid-August through the first frost. The cost is $3 a pound. Cash and check accepted; picking buckets and flats are provided. No pets. Call ahead to make sure fruit is available.
Tammen Treeberry Farm: 37131 Essex Road, Wilmington. (815) 458-6264. E-mail: email@example.com. tammentreeberryfarm.net. Hours: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday; closed Sundays. Owner Bruce Tammen warns of a much smaller crop this year, thanks to the April freezes. He expects what blueberries he’ll have to ripen possibly a bit ahead of schedule, potentially late June or early July, and urges customers to check the web site and Facebook page often for reports. They accept cash, check, all major credit and debit cards. There are restrooms and a picnic area onsite.
UP Berries: 30683 Lanan Road, Kingston. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. upberries.com. Hours: Sun up to sun down. There is a self-serve honor system in place at this red raspberry orchard. Picking starts in early July and goes through the first frost. Next year blueberries and blackberries will be available as well for you-pick. $3 per pint of raspberries; cash only.
Wiltse’s Farm Produce and Greenhouses: 50 W 379 IL 38, Maple Park. (815) 827-3575. wiltsefarm.com. Hours 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. For up-to-the-minute information on what is available, visit the farm’s Facebook page. Depending on the weather, strawberries will be ready to pick mid-June. Cash, check, credit cards accepted.
Woodstock Country Orchard: 17015 Garden Valley Road, Woodstock. (815) 923-4359. Email: email@example.com. woodstockcountryorchard.com. Hours: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Raspberries are available for you-pick at $4 a pint beginning in September.