By Raquel DeSouza
Summer is here and now is the perfect time to pick sweet strawberries in Leesburg.
Two years ago, the Loudoun-based farm struck a deal to plant strawberries at Oatlands as part of a new business venture that includes educational programs for the surrounding community. Wegmeyer Farms planted strawberries on 2 acres of the historic plantation, and visitors can again reap the rewards with a pick-your-own program running through early summer.
As part of the educational aspect at Oatlands, manager of programming and education Janis Golden says that employees wear prairie outfits and explain the long history of strawberries at the property, which began when the Carter family began planting the fruit in the 1850s. Elizabeth Carter even wrote in her diary about sending their harvests to Civil War troops in the area.
Today, families can take a hayride into the 2-acre farm patch that has about 35,000 strawberry plants. Golden describes strawberry picking as a tactical experience for kids because they can feel, smell, taste and take some of the ripe fruit back home.
Harriet Wegmeyer,who owns Wegmeyer Farms with her husband, Tyler Wegmeyer, says that almost everyone who comes to the farm is “given a very personal lesson on how to pick strawberries and on how strawberries grow.”
Then there is the mansion built in 1804 with over 4 acres of gardens and a reflecting pool to explore.
Harriet and Tyler Wegmeyer approached Oatlands for a partnership after learning about its history with strawberries at a lecture from the Mosby Heritage Area Association. She says this partnership is “such a nice tie” to their love for both agriculture and history.
There will be a strawberry festival May 30 at Oatlands with food and games, and the fruit’s season ends by around mid-June, depending on the weather. Wegmeyer Farms has strawberry picking at its Hamilton and Gilbert’s Corner locations as well. It costs $3.99 for each pound of freshly picked strawberries.
“My one thing with strawberries is that no matter what farm you go to, strawberries are something you can do from 2 to 92 [years old],” Wegmeyer says. “It’s a full family activity, and you can have success no matter what age.”
Gilbert’s Corner: 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Oatlands: 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Hamilton: 9 a.m.-8 p.m.
Oatlands Historic House & Gardens
May 30: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
$10 per person, $20 per family (two adults and children under 16), children 3 years and younger have free admission