Strawberries picked by hand somehow just taste better than those picked up at the grocery store. If you’re dreaming of flaky shortcakes topped with billowing whipped cream or just-from-the-oven crisp topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream—or you’re planning to fill your pantry with jams, jellies, and relishes—here are five farms that invite you grab a basket and pluck your own produce. Check ahead for hours and availability, but you’ll usually find more berries if you arrive earlier in the day.
Situated at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains outside the village of Bluemont, the 400-acre Great Country Farms is one of the region’s most popular spots for picnics, festivals, outdoor play, and pick-your-own produce. The Zurschmeides have been farming in Loudoun County since the 1970s and are known for their Chandler strawberries, a large, firm brilliant-red variety available from mid- to late-May through early June. Afterward, head up the road to sister property Bluemont Vineyard or Dirt Farm Brewing to take in a beverage and the sweeping views. // greatcountryfarms.com
Started in the early 1950s by the late Robert C. Davenport, Hollin Farms is a family-run operation in Delaplane, adjacent to Sky Meadows State Park, that’s named for a community of 450 Modernist houses he developed in southern Fairfax County in the 1950s and 1960s. Davenport was once awarded Virginia Cattleman of the Year for improving beef cattle in the state; today, grass-fed natural Angus beef is available for order and purchase. // hollinfarms.com
With three U-pick locations, Wegmeyer Farms offers plenty of opportunities for strawberries in May and June: a picturesque farmstead in Hamilton, a plantation in Leesburg dating back to 1798, and a roadside location in Gilbert’s Corner that also sells pre-picked berries. Due to COVID-19, advance online reservations are required again this year; the fee secures a spot in the field for one family group and includes the first bucket of berries. Farmers are particularly excited about Ruby June, a new variety with a dark interior and exterior and luscious flavor, available about a week sooner than most strawberries. // wegmeyerfarms.com
Its location in the town of Berryville, in the northern part of the Shenandoah Valley, makes an outing to Mackintosh Fruit Farm especially auspicious for picking baskets of the red fruit. It all started in 1988 with peach and apple trees; since then, the family has added other fruit as well. They’re all about maintaining healthy, nutrient-rich living soil replete with beneficial microbes; their limestone-rich soil provides calcium to trees and plants to improve disease resistance and fruit quality. Post-patch, linger to enjoy a picnic and walk on their hiking trail. // mackintoshfruitfarm.com
A fresh market produce farm in Prince William County, Yankey Farms has a Glenkirk Road roadside stand, CSA subscription, and pick-your-own strawberry patch at its Owls Nest Road location in Nokesville, opening in May for a season that lasts just a few precious weeks. Online reservations are required at or shortly before 8 p.m. the evening before you plan on coming to the farm; pre-picked buckets are also available for purchase. The farm employs organic and eco-friendly practices including no-till planting, crop rotation, nutrient management, and integrated pest management for the highest-quality fruit. // yankeyfarms.com