It’s time to step into the field and pick your own.
“That’ll be a yummy one,” Heather Fidler said, just before her daughter, Emaleigh Fidler, 3, took a few quick steps back to steady herself as the strawberry released from the stem with a loud snap.
“Good job,” Fidler of Salisbury said.
The two were harvesting strawberries during the opening day for the pick-your-own fields at Patterson Farm in Mount Ullah. The commercial farm, with 45 acres of strawberries, has been in the Patterson family for four generations and the pick-your-own fields are open 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays, until the season ends in mid to late June.
For Charlotte resident Meghan Stamper it was the first time bringing her family of five to the farm. “We had been counting down the days to the opening and it couldn’t have been better weather,” she said.
With her 3-week-old daughter Madeline strapped to her chest, Stamper was trying to get a picture of her husband, Jonathan Stamper, as he caught a berry from their son, Jacob, 6, with brother Nick, 3, still checking the rows behind them.
“I was so in to picking the berries that I kind of got lost,” Jonathan Stamper said, admitting he didn’t see his family when he finally looked up. As he and Nick carried the overfilled baskets, containing about 6 quarts of berries, he said, “I won’t have to buy any strawberries for a while.”
Michelle Patterson, treasurer and “director of fun” for the farm, tells pickers that the berries on the south side of the rows were ripening faster and those were the ones to pick. In the sea of green leafy plant tops, you could only see the hats of Huntersville resident Julie Kramer with her children, Henry, 5, and Maggie, 2, working on that side of the rows.
That was until Maggie stood up to brush the dirt off her hands and Henry stood up to show his mother the berry he had found.
Patterson said that is why the people come, to connect with the Earth and the food that it provides. “People want to come out and connect with the farm and kind of learn where their food comes from,” she said.
The cost for picking your own berries is $14 per gallon, but the less adventurous can buy them picked in the farmers market at the Patterson’s Caldwell Road location for $15 per gallon. Patterson said that it is the connection with the land, “and you get t o select which berries you pick,” that lures many to the fields, not the savings.
Patterson discourages pickers from eating as you pick. She said the farm follows Good Agriculture Practice Standards and safe food handling practices require that you wash your hands before you pick and you wash the produce before you eat it.
“Farmers can control a lot of things on the farm, but it (the farm) is in nature,” she said, looking up as a few birds flew overhead.
Marty Price is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to go?
You should call or check the website for hours and availability of produce.
▪ Patterson Farm, 10390 Caldwell Park Road, Mount Ullah 28125, 704-636-4005. www.pattersonfarminc.com.
▪ Carrigan Farms, 1261 Oak Ridge Farm Highway, Mooresville 28115, 704-664-1450. www.carriganfarms.com/the-farm/pick-your-own/.
▪ The Bradford Store, 15915 Davidson Concord Highway, Huntersville 28078, 704-439- 4303.
▪ Howard’s Strawberries, 250 Crater Road, Harmony 28634, 704-539-4994.
▪ Lineberger’s Maple Springs Farm, 906 Dallas-Stanley Highway, Dallas 28034 704-922-8688.
▪ Lineberger’s Berry Hill Farm, 2400 Hudson Poultry Road, Iron Station 28080, 704-748-1488.
▪ Deer Run Farm, 12325 Highway 601, Midland 28107, 704-888-6304. www.deerrunfarmllc.com.
▪ Hall Family Farm,10713 Providence Road W., Charlotte 28277 704-540-0367 or 704-562-4021. http://hallfamilyfarm.com.
▪ The Hunter Farm, 13624 Providence Road, Weddington 28104, 704-846-7975, 704-258-5469 or 704-564-5897. www.thehunterfarm.com.
▪ M & M Farms, 7208 Alexander Farm Road, Monroe 28110, 704-574-9200 or 704-753-4092
▪ Piedmont Produce, 4212 E. U.S. 218, Monroe 28110, 704-753-2300. www.piedmontproduce.com.
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