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Berry Picking Brings Taste of the Country to New Yorkers

A child grabs a handful of berries from a low-lying bush.
A child grabs a handful of berries from a low-lying bush.
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Flickr/various brennemans

NEW YORK CITY — Berry season is here — and New Yorkers who don't want to wait for the delectable summer treats to arrive at their local greenmarkets and CSAs can travel straight to the source and pick the fruits themselves. 

Several farms near the city offer the chance to taste strawberries, blueberries and raspberries fresh from the vine, all within two hours by train or car.

"It's really exciting to see the smile on the child's face when they take a bite of a strawberry or blueberry they just picked," said Chris Kelder, owner of Kelder's Farms in Ulster County. "It really makes the food have more meaning."

Kelder sees a trip to the farm as an educational experience for everyone from tiny tots to grandparents — but especially for children who think fresh fruit comes from the supermarket.

Fresh blueberries are waiting to be picked in the photo taken in summer 2012 at Ochs Orchard.
Fresh blueberries are waiting to be picked in the photo taken in summer 2012 at Ochs Orchard.
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Ochs Orchard/Facebook

"We've seen over the years that kids don't really know where their food comes from," Kelder said, "but here they really get to see and pick the produce themselves."

Kelder's Farms, located in Rondout Valley in Accord, N.Y., about an hour from Midtown Manhattan, grows a variety of crops year-round and also offers hayrides, miniature golf and even an annual barn dance and barbecue.

The farm is just one of many in the tristate area with berry picking and other family-friendly activities throughout the summer. Here are the best of what DNAinfo.com New York found within two hours of the city.


Ochs Orchard

Ochs Orchard is another farm located in upstate New York that offers pick-your-own blueberries, strawberries, select veggies and a separate field with farm-fresh summer flowers.

Located about an hour and a half from Manhattan in a scenic part of Warwick, N.Y., the farm is known for its rolling hills and spectacular views of the valleys below.

Workers at Ochs Orchard suggest packing a picnic lunch and blanket to bring to the orchard's gazebo, located above the rows of trees and bushes.

If visitors get tired of picking, the orchard's store is packed with pre-picked produce, including fruits such as apples, peaches, plums, pears, musk melons and watermelons, along with fresh veggies like sweet corn, lettuce, potatoes and onions.

The farm also features many other outdoor activities, including a glass-enclosed working beehive and a small petting zoo that houses miniature goats and "Misty," the Sicilian donkey.

Sweet-toothed explorers also won't want to miss the honey, made fresh on site, and ice cream flavored with local berries.

4 Ochs Lane, Warwick, N.Y., 10990. 845-986-1591.


Lewin Farms

Lewin Farms, a 1,100-acre farm located located a little more than an hour-and-a-half from Manhattan in the town of Calverton, N.Y., claims to be the oldest pick-your-own farm on Long Island.

The farm, which has been family-owned and operated for four generations, offers a selection of raspberries, peaches, strawberries and blueberries all ready for picking.

Other crops will be offered starting in late August, including tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and the farm's featured summer veggie: ripe corn, often available freshly roasted.

Visitors can also wander through the farm's corn maze, which has a different design every year, or visit the farm stand, open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Monday.

812 Sound Avenue, Calverton, N.Y., 11933. 631-929-4327.

Patty's Berries and Bunches

Kids and fruit-lovers will be in heaven at the Long Island-based Patty's Berries and Bunches, which offers more than 24 different varieties of finger-staining berries for only $5 a quart.

The pick-your-own blackberries, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries grow alongside wildflowers like peonies, cosmos, sunflowers and snap dragons, creating a visual feast of summer blues, oranges and pretty purples on the farm's 20 acres.

Located in Mattituck, Long Island, a trip to Patty's Berries and Bunches takes less than two hours from Manhattan, making it an affordable and easy journey for families coming from New York City.

Wandering New Yorkers are also likely to be met warmly, as the farm's owner, Patricia DiVello, said she loves showing off her farm to curious families who come during the busy summer months.

"It feels so rewarding when you see the little seeds you planted, watered and weeded grow into beautiful crops," DiVello said.

"It brings me happiness to know that my end product is in someone’s home making them happy."

A berry chart on the website shows up-to-date information about which seasonal berries are available for slim, good or bountiful picking.

410 Sound Avenue, Mattituck, N.Y., 11952. 631-298-4679.


Johnson's Corner Farm

Johnson's Corner Farm, located a little less than two hours from the city in Medford, N.J., brings guests on quaint hayrides to pick freshly grown pumpkins, apples, strawberries, blueberries, peaches and sweet corn.

The hayrides are offered every day starting at 10 a.m., with special evening rides added on Wednesday and Friday nights.

If berry pickers are hungry after all that work, the farm has a bakery and kitchen that sells award-winning pies and cobblers made from the field's fresh fruit.

Those who don't have time to pick can try the farm's famous "Iced Corn," a homemade delicacy sold out of a wagon filled with ice to keep the crop as fresh as possible.

Johnson's Corner Farm also hosts a Family Fun Night Wednesdays from 5 to 8 p.m. and a BBQ Family Fun night with a flea market on Fridays.

133 Church Road, Medford, N.J., 08055. (609) 654-8643.

Earth Friendly Organic Farm and Bed and Breakfast

For families or couples looking for an overnight getaway from the city's hustle and bustle, the Earth Friendly Organic Farm and Bed and Breakfast offers a miniature retreat in the scenic countryside of Clarksburg, N.J.

The farm and bed and breakfast, located only an hour-and-a-half from Manhattan, is described by its owners as "nature's haven."

"Bordered on the west by giant white pines and on the south by a natural forest with meandering paths, it is a retreat that offers relaxation and comfortable accommodations," the farm's website says.

The farm also offers plenty of blueberries, New Jersey's state fruit, as well as blackberries and raspberries that are available into August.

17 Olde Noah Hunt Road, Clarksburg, N.J., 08510. 609-259-9744.