Pick-Your-Own Spots in Western Massachusetts

Mash Notes to Paradise by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Note 15, Pick-Your-Own Spots

Berry picking with the family. (Photo credit: Sarah Buttenwieser)

I wrote a little post for Momfilter, (fun site—I especially adore the pretty pictures!) about the joys of pick-your-own. For people who live in a city, I realize that the chance to go berry or apple picking—or even pluck a few cherry tomatoes from an outdoor plant, potted or in a garden plot—requires some planning (vacation activity, anyone?). And so writing that post made me think about another Mash Notable reality of life in this corner of New England: there are ample pick-you-own opportunities.

What’s more, from the pumpkin patch or apple orchard field trip that’s a staple in our preschools and early elementary years to the family outings for fill-in-the-blank favorite harvest-able, it turns out that the experience of picking food from where it grows is usual around here. This is a good thing for those of us hoping our kids understand the farm-to-table connection or at least the food doesn’t grow on supermarket shelves. This is a promising thing for the farmers’ markets, which span from Springfield to the Berkshires and pretty much all points in between. Appreciation for the most local food is, I think we can all agree, a sign of progress, even if it hits your ear as retro (my neighbors with the veggie garden in front of their house, I always equate with some read-about and heard-about tale of victory gardens).

❥ And this is a good moment to share this tip: you can find out about picking and farmers’ marketing and CSA sharing through CISA’s site. If you’re Berkshire bound, you can learn more through Berkshire Grown.

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Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah is a writer, who lives in Northampton with her husband and four children. She contributes to Preview Massachusetts Magazine, as well as other publications and writes a parenting blog Standing in the Shadows at the Valley Advocate. She moved to the Valley to attend Hampshire College—and found the Valley such a nice place, she stayed!

Q&A: Where to Pick Local Pears?


Pear trees are becoming heavy with fruit.  Share your favorite spot to purchase or pick fresh local pears. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Pears are coming into season soon. Do you know of a place families can PYO pears, or a farm stand to purchase fresh local pears? Share your favorite place to pick or purchase local pears!

  • Heather Richardson wrote: I can’t wait to see what others say! I’d love to find local pears! I bought some from some guy on the side of the road last year! They were cheap and tasty… I even went back and got more! Hope I see him again this year!
  • Liz Castro wrote: Wow, which road, which side? I love pears.
  • Heather Richardson wrote: Liz, this was in Belchertown, MA (Rt.9 by the Sunoco Station/Saportitos/Napa Auto Parts).
  • Alissa Imre Geis wrote: Clarkdale Fruit Farms in Deerfield, MA usually has pears. It is little early yet. They have excellent peaches, plums and early apples NOW!
  • Jody Hadden wrote: I had a pear tree at my old house – seeing as I know the new owners… I just get mine there but I believe they have pick your own at Lakeview Orchard in Lanesboro, MA.
  • Jennifer Reiffert wrote: Yum I want some! And I want to pick ’em please ♥
  • Marissa Tenenbaum Potter wrote: Apex Orchard in Shelburne Falls, MA does organic Asian pears…
  • Jennifer ‘kippy’ York wrote: Sentinel Farm on Cottage St. in Belchertown, MA has pick your own days in Sept and Oct. They have mostly apples but may have pears as well. www.sentinelfarm.com
  • Arianna Alexsandra Grindrod wrote: We just bought pears from Brook Farm at the Ashfield Farmers Market. Maya nabbed one as soon as we got in the car and munched it til it was just a core.

Sweeten Up Your Summer With Local Fruit

Sweeten Up Your Summer

Fresh Picked Blackberries at the Amherst Farmers Market - (c) Sienna Wildfield

Fresh Picked Blackberries at the Amherst Farmers' Market - (c) Sienna Wildfield

At the height of summer, nothing is more refreshing than biting into a piece of fresh, juicy fruit. If you’ve never tried farm-fresh fruits, you owe it to yourself to go find some. Nothing compares to the taste and texture of fully ripened locally grown fruits- particularly not under-ripe fruit shipped from far off places. Thankfully, here in the Valley, there are lots of ways to fill your fruit bowl with local fruit:

As local berries and fruits ripen, finding new ways to use the abundance can be exciting. Pies, cobblers, and tarts are delicious ideas, but fresh fruit shouldn’t be limited to desserts- add them to salads, breakfasts, or get creative with savory dishes. Want to enjoy these treats year-round? Read up on preserving your fruit for the rest of the year by freezing, drying, and jam making.

You may not always notice it at the grocery store, but summer fruits have their own micro-seasons of availability, so you’ve got to scoop them up when you get the chance. Keep in mind that harvest times vary from year to year, so it is always a good idea to call ahead to be sure that the products you want are available. For a list of local fruit producers, visit our online Farm Products Guide.

And if you find that you’re competing with the fruit flies for all that local fruit on your counter, try this: squirt some dish soap into a mug, add a glug of vinegar (locally available from Apex Orchards in Shelburne), and fill with water. Flies are attracted to the vinegar, but get caught in the soapsuds, especially if you’ve eaten, or covered, any fruit in your kitchen.

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