July 28, 2020
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Sunny skies and lush foliage surround you as you meander through the well-kempt rows of trees. All your worries fly away as you continue your search for the perfect fruits and spend the afternoon berry picking with your closest friends. There’s something about U-pick farms that takes visitors back to a simpler time and creates an appreciation for farming that we don’t often get to experience.
Since the Golden State is known for its widespread farmlands—which grow everything from dates, grapes, and strawberries to pumpkins, almonds, and lettuce—there’s no shortage of farm-picking locales to choose from. While these fields contribute to the beauty of driving across the state, they also provide the opportunity to connect with our food in a whole new way.
With the farm-to-table movement rapidly deepening its roots in California, there’s a newfound respect for the effort it takes to produce the fruits and vegetables we enjoy on a daily basis. For those looking to take their affinity for food to new heights, the U-pick farms in California present the perfect opportunity to get up close and personal with produce.
Whether you’re looking to get acquainted with your local blueberry farm, to go raspberry picking in the neighboring town, or to find an enviable strawberry farm to photograph for your next Instagram post, U-pick farms across the state have exactly what you’re looking for.
The Best U-Pick Farms in California
While there are dozens of farms to choose from, these organic U-pick locations stand above the rest for their commitment to the environment and local communities.
Gold Country U-Pick Farms
24 Carrot Farm
Location: 2731 Jacquier Road, Placerville
Hours: Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Nestled in the quaint town of Placerville, 24 Carrot Farm operates with sustainability in mind. Growing all organic vegetables and fruits, this spot is an ideal place to stop by during the summer and fall months. With U-pick berries available in the summertime along with cherry tomatoes and flowers in the fall, this Apple Hill farm is picture-perfect.
The Top Bay Area Farms
The Urban Edge Farm
Location: 2017 Walnut Boulevard, Brentwood
Hours: Wednesday through Monday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Spread across 34 acres, The Urban Edge Farm is located in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region. Growing 50-plus certified-organic fruits, vegetables, and herbs—ranging from strawberries and peaches to corn, carrots, and pluots—there’s always something to discover here.
Blue House Farm
Location: 950 La Honda Road, San Gregorio
Hours: Saturday and Sunday, from 12 to 6 p.m.
Fees: $5 per pound of strawberries
Settled near the iconic Highway 1 in San Mateo, Blue House Farm is a beautiful place to visit for U-pick strawberries. Specializing in certified-organic fruits, vegetables, and flowers, this farm has everything you need for a successful week, so make sure you stop by the farmstand after picking your ripe berries.
Central Coast Farms
Swanton Berry Farm
Location: 25 Swanton Road, Davenport
Hours: Daily, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Fees: Per pound
As the first organic strawberry farm in California and the first unionized organic farm in America, Swanton Berry Farm is a must-see locale. In addition to its unique accomplishments, this spot has a ton of interesting fruits available at the farmstand, including staples (like blackberries, artichokes, kiwis, and pumpkins) along with less-common varieties (such as tayberries and loganberries).
With such a wide selection, there’s something for every season—head down in October for pumpkins; come in December for U-pick kiwis; grab a bunch of broccoli in January or cauliflower in February; and pick berries in the summer.
Notable U-Pick Farms in The Central Valley
Location: 38918 Road 64, Dinuba
Hours: Wednesdays through Saturdays, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Fees: $1 per pound for plums, and $2 per pound for stone fruit
Located south of Fresno and west of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Naylor Organics grows blackberries and 30 varieties of stone fruits, including plums, nectarines, apricots, and peaches. Spend a day walking around the three acres of U-pick farmland, or make a weekend of it and check in for the night at this unique farm stay.
Owners Mike and Nori Naylor both spent a lot of time on farms growing up—Mike being a third-generation farmer and Nori the granddaughter of farmers—and they took over the Naylor farm in 1979. Just a few years later, they switched over to organic practices and have never looked back. With such a long lineage and widespread land, it’s easy to see why this organic farm is one of the best U-pick farms in the Central Valley.
Southern California U-Pick Farms
Apple Starr Orchard
Location: 1020 Julian Orchard Drive, Julian
Hours: Open Saturday and Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (from late August to early October). Open by appointment on weekdays.
Fees: $25 for one peck (12 pounds) and $15 for each additional bag
Reservations: Yes, on weekdays
Apple Starr Orchard has been a certified-organic farm since 1996. With 28 acres of land across the farm and 8 acres planted with apples and pears, there’s plenty to explore here. At this stunning San Diego U-pick farm, you’ll find around 1,000 trees, whose ages range from 20 to an impressive 70 years old. Bring the whole family (but make sure to leave Fido at home), and you’ll have an unforgettable autumnal experience.
South Coast Farms
Location: 33201 Ortega Highway, San Juan Capistrano
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (during the summer)
Fees: $5 entry fee per car, plus $4 per pound of strawberries
As the only family farm in San Juan Capistrano, South Coast Farms is an incredible stop on any California road trip. While not certified-organic, this farm never uses pesticides, fungicides, or any other potentially harmful substance in its growing practices. Swing by during the summer for delicious U-pick strawberries, or check back later on for an even more unusual experience: U-pick potatoes.
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