One of my all time favorite springtime activities is strawberry picking in North Carolina with my family. It’s a great chance to be in nature, support local farmers, allow kids to be involved, and most importantly: go home with a delicious and nutritious treat!
Tips for strawberry picking in North Carolina
Strawberry picking may seem pretty straight forward, but I have learned a thing or two during my years of strawberry hunting in the south. No two strawberry farms are the same, but these tips should be helpful regardless of where you go!
Research the farm first
Once you settle on a farm, it’s always a good idea to check out their website and social media pages or call them to ensure they still have plenty of you-pick berries available. Strawberry patches are heavily impacted by weather, and North Carolina is notorious for scattered storms and random heat waves in the spring.
You’ll also want to check on the farm’s policy on buckets. Some farms provide them, some charge for them, and some ask that you bring your own.
How to pick the strawberries
Strawberry picking is a privilege that local farmers give their community and should be treated as such! It’s most important to be respectful and remember that this is private property being shared for your enjoyment.
Refrain from stepping on the crops and be conscious of waste. Many farms allow you to taste strawberries as you pick within reason. A berry or two per person is usually appropriate, but don’t take advantage of the farmers’ hospitality by eating a buckets worth!
When looking for the best berries, always go for the deep red strawberries, as those are ripe, ready, and the most delicious. Strawberries do NOT continue to ripen off the vine, so if you pick unripe berries in the hopes of making them last longer, you’ll just be stuck with hard, gross berries on your counter until you finally throw them away. No one wants that! Go for red.
Unfortunately, the strawberries do tend to go bad quickly. The good news is that you can freeze them! I recommend making some goodies with them such as fresh strawberry jam and giving it out to friends and neighbors, or freezing it so that you have a taste of spring this winter!
Tips for strawberry picking in North Carolina with kids
One of the best parts of strawberry picking as a family is that the children can be involved. My sons love being given the freedom and responsibility to pick their own berries and carry the buckets. There are a few things I encourage caregivers to keep in mind when strawberry picking in North Carolina with children.
It’s always a good idea to prepare kids and express expectations before getting to the farm. Explain what the process will be, how fun it is, and what they should and should not do. Letting them know beforehand that they can’t eat ALL the berries might help save you from a tantrum!
Keep in mind that this is the south—we have bugs and lots of them. Bees are not an uncommon visitor at strawberry patches so if your kids are scared, it would be wise to warn them, explain that bees are usually nice, and how to interact with them.
Lastly, keep your kids close. Kids, especially young ones, may not understand the importance of respecting the crop so it’s our job as their parents and caregivers to ensure that they’re not stepping and grabbing where they shouldn’t be.
Where to go strawberry picking in North Carolina
There are so many you-pick strawberry farms in North Carolina, I cannot possibly include them all in this blog. I have no doubt that you’ll have a great experience at any one of them, but I will highlight a few notable ones!
DJ’s Berry Patch
DJ’s Berry Patch is located in Apex and was our go-to strawberry patch when we lived in Morrisville. They provide the buckets and are so welcoming. The field is large and the berries are big and plentiful!
Hunts Strawberry Farm
Hunts Strawberry Farm is an iconic you-pick strawberry patch in Raleigh. Folks have been visiting and enjoying it for decades, including my sister and her children who visited this spring and had a wonderful time! Note: Hunts is cash only!
Carrigan Farms is located in Mooresville just outside of Charlotte. In addition to the strawberry patch, they often have a food truck on site that sells strawberry slushies and shortcake!
Carrigan Farms also has a quarry onsite with open swim times. We have visited to swim in the beautiful, refreshing water and it was a blast! They provide life jackets and you can rope swing or jump off the rocks into the water under the watch of their lifeguards. How fun would it be to pick strawberries and then go for a swim in the quarry?!
If you really want the most comprehensive listing for strawberry farms, you need to had to NCStrawberry.com.
They have a great farm locator tool that’s super easy to use and filled with so many farms!
And if you’re looking for fresh local strawberries but picking them yourself isn’t your jam, head to Phillips Farms of Cary.
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Grab the family for Shop & Play Saturdays during strawberry season. You’ll find a large selection of fresh strawberries from nearby farms. When you’re strawberry shopping is complemented with live music, food trucks, games for kids, and more, it’s an easy choice for family fun.