Wednesday, January 03, 2007

It's Strawberry Season... Now Go Out and U-Pick 'Em!

Ah, winter in Florida (yes, it is winter my fellow Floridians). Time for navel oranges and fresh strawberries! Now, I have not been to the Plant City Strawberry Festival, so I can't compare, but I found a great place to take the kids strawberry picking right up S.R. 441. While heading back from lunch in Mt. Dora a couple of weekends ago, we passed a sign that read "U-Pick Strawberries" and a big arrow. Grandpa reasoned that if the sign was out, then they had to be open so we followed the arrows. A few miles and a dirt road later and we arrived at Oak Haven Farms. Yeah! They were open! We parked by the farm store and found out that we were there for the second weekend of strawberry season and it had come a little early this year. If we wanted to pick our own, it would be $1.99 a pound, or we could just buy the ones they had already picked for $3 a pound. We decided to "U-Pick" and grabbed a long cardboard box to put the berries in. We were told to head to where the other pickers were and the Oak Haven employee there would tell us what to do. BB dashed off to the strawberry fields with LB quickly following behind. Wow, I guess they were excited! The Oak Haven farmer gave us an orange flag that we were to put at the end of the row of strawberries we picked so they would know that row was done and not to send others down that row. All we had to do was find a row without an orange flag at the end. The boys and Grandpa had a GREAT time. The boys liked to find the ripe red berries and even my 3-year old started to learn that the red ones were good and the green ones were not yet ready. BB learned how to pick the berries pretty quickly but I had to guide LB a little bit. At first, he would just reach for the red berry and pretty much squish it. I taught him to use two hands and hold the stem with one hand and then pull the berry by the green part with the other. I had to help him pull but he did really good. The berries were nice and big and really ripe, but not too soft. At the end of the row, we realized we had actually picked a lot of berries.

Turns out, when our booty got weighed at the store, we had picked 3 pounds worth! They were really sweet and juicy too -- no sugar needed here! I was also excited to get back to the store because I saw that they had fresh strawberry milkshakes for sale as well. Unfortunately, I found out that, since it was only the beginning of the season, that they didn't have enough staff yet to man the milkshake counter but that they would in January. That seals the deal - I'll have to come back.

To get to Oak Haven Farms, take S.R. 441 North through Mt. Dora (past Hwy 46), and then turn right (East) on Wolf Branch Road. Take Wolf Branch Road for 2.5 miles and then turn left (North) on Bird Road. Bird Road is a dirt road and you'll see Oak Haven Farms on the right-hand side. Oak Haven Farms is not open everyday so you can call them at 352-735-1996 to see when they are going to be open.

Does anyone else have a favorite U-Pick 'Em place? I know there are some blueberry ones and corn ones as well. Let me know!


Anonymous said...

Love your Blog! Wow! A lot of work on your part! Great doing! Did you save some strawberries for the other grandma

sam said...

Wow, I remember going strawberry picking and blueberry pickng when I was seven. I would eat more strawberrys than what I put in the box. hehe. then I would have a huge red mustash and a bright red beard. Mabey Ill take my little brother this year. I know he would love it.

Anyways, I loved your storys theyre rreally creative and all. ^^

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