Sunday, August 16, 2020

My Favorite U-Pick Farms in Rochester, NY: Fruit, Flowers, and Fall Fun

If you've been following my blog or my Instagram for a while now, you probably know that I'm a huge supporter of local u pick farms in Rochester. In some ways, I'm a bit of a country girl at heart – and with such fertile farmland in the area around my hometown, I've been on a bit of a mission to take advantage of all the fruit picking Rochester NY has to provide.

u pick peaches nectarines rochester ny
Credit: Emma Rizzo (captured at Green Acre Farms)
Fortunately for me, there's no shortage of u pick farms in Rochester. Now that the summer is winding down and peach season (my favorite time of year!) is upon us, I thought I'd put together a little guide for any locals or visitors who are on the hunt for Rochester NY u pick farms. Check out some of my favorite places for fruit picking, sunflower fields, and pumpkin patches in the area below – and you can see some of my previous blog posts featuring u pick farms here!

U Pick Strawberries in Rochester

The u pick season begins with sweet strawberries. Depending on growing conditions, local strawberries may be ready by early June. In 2020, strawberries were at their peak during the second half of June and into the beginning of July. In fact, I spent part of my July 4th picking these cuties! Keep in mind that strawberries have a short season, so be sure to head out to your choice of u pick farms in Rochester as soon as they're ready for picking! Note that you may be able to find fall strawberries in certain locations, as well.

PRO TIP: I always recommend following your favorite farm on social media, checking their website, or calling their u pick phone line to find out what's in season and whether picking conditions are optimal. Always check before you go, as rainy or crowded conditions can force farms to close for picking without much notice! Many farms will still have freshly picked fruit available at their store or stand if u pick conditions aren't optimal.

pick your own strawberries rochester ny
Credit: Emma Rizzo (captured at Chase Farms)
My favorite places for u pick strawberries in Rochester are Chase Farms in Fairport and Hurd Orchards in Holley. Chase and Hurd have several other great options for fruit picking Rochester NY residents can enjoy, as well. Other popular spots for strawberry picking in the Rochester area include G&S Orchards in Walworth, Burch Farms in Hilton, and Mendon Acre Farms in Mendon. Wickham Farms in Penfield also started offering u pick strawberries this year (later than other farms in the area, which was great for those who missed out!).

Raspberry Picking Rochester NY

Summer raspberries are typically next on the list of fruits that are ready for picking, though they often overlap with cherries (which we'll get to shortly). Expect to head to your choice of farm for the finest raspberry picking Rochester NY has to supply during early- to mid-July. Some farms may offer black, yellow, or purple raspberries in addition to the red raspberries you're already familiar with. But if you miss the summer season, don't fret – many farms may also offer autumn raspberry picking! Keep an eye out for fall raspberries from mid-August to late September in this area.

PRO TIP: Always check to make sure which payment methods a farm accepts before heading out to pick! (I've made this mistake myself!) While some farms and farm markets do accept credit and debit cards, you should never assume that they'll take anything other than cash. Stop at the ATM before you go to avoid any delay or embarrassment.

raspberry picking rochester ny
Captured at Chase Farms
My favorite spots for u pick raspberries in Rochester are Chase Farms in Fairport, Schutt's Apple Mill in Webster, and G&S Orchards in Walworth. You can also enjoy raspberry picking at Green Acre Farms in Greece, Watt Farms in Albion, or the Raspberry Hill Farm in Penfield.

Lavender Festival Rochester NY
Lavender can start to blossom in the spring, but it's often at its peak during the summer months. I've been to a few different events that allow you to pick the loveliest lavender Rochester NY has ever seen, so I'm sharing a few options for you to try this year.

PRO TIP: When you visit a lavender farm, they'll likely give you instructions on how to pick it properly and will provide you with scissors. During our trip to a NY lavender festival a couple of years ago, we learned how to tie lavender bouquets for drying. However, you can simply tie them (or rubber band them) together and hang them upside down to dry. Don't tie them together too tightly!

Captured at the NY Lavender Festival

If you're looking to pick (or simply smell and enjoy) the homegrown lavender Rochester NY has to offer, you have a few different options. NEW FOR 2022: Be advised that I've seen a lot of farms reporting harsh weather damaged their lavender this winter, so you'll want to check before you plan your visit. Wickham Farms in Penfield is currently hosting its Lavender Festival where you can pick your own lavender and enjoy the farm's fantastic photo ops, among other attractions. I also love the Lockwood Lavender Farm, located in Skaneateles, but I haven't yet seen any updates related to their lavender events or u-pick. My friends at Bristol Hills Lavender and Flower Farm are hosting u-pick hours and picnics in the lavender, so be sure to check those out! I haven't yet been to Lavender Crest Farm in Penn Yann, but it looks beautiful. I'd also recommend the NY Lavender Festival at the Ol'Factory Lavender Farm in Red Creek. While it's a bit of a drive, it's a LOT of fun. You can pick your own lavender, sample delicious lavender-infused treats, and learn a lot about the farm. 

U Pick Cherries Rochester

Although cherry has never been my favorite flavor (nor did I eat too many cherries when I was growing up), I absolutely love picking this fruit as an adult. Walking through a cherry orchard is one of my favorite things to do. And of course, I always have to dress the part. In Western NY, u pick cherries are typically available throughout the month of July. Occasionally, they might be available starting at the very end of June. This year featured a relatively short picking season for cherries for many farms, so don't delay when you hear they're finally ready!

PRO TIP: Keep picking ability in mind! Strawberry picking is a natural choice for families with kids, as strawberries grow close to the ground and make for easy picking. Blueberries are also a great fruit-picking option for children because bushes don't grow too high and don't pose much of a safety threat. While raspberries may be physically accessible to younger folks, don't forget that they also have thorns! Cherry-picking may require help from someone tall in your party (or a ladder), so the physical picking aspect may not be possible or safe for the littlest members of your crew. That doesn't mean they won't enjoy the festivities; you'll just want to keep expectations in check and go early enough in the season to take advantage of lower-hanging fruit.

u pick cherry orchard rochester ny upstate
Photo credit: Emma Rizzo (captured at Schutt's Apple Mill)
My absolute favorite farms for u pick cherries Rochester has are Schutt's Apple Mill in Webster, Hurd Orchards in Holley, and G&S Orchards in Walworth. You can also visit Watt Farms in Albion, Burch Farms in Hilton, or Whittier Fruit Farm in Gates.

U Pick Blueberries in Rochester

Growing up, I always loved the book Blueberries for Sal (especially because my mom's name is Sally!). I don't remember picking blueberries when I was younger, but I've had a great time doing so during the past couple of years! Blueberry season typically starts during the middle or end of July and goes through August; because the season often overlaps with raspberry or stone fruit season, you'll be able to get your fill of all the fruit picking Rochester NY has to offer!

PRO TIP: Bring your own picking receptacle if you're able! While many farms will kindly supply containers for your bounty, keep in mind that this may sometimes be factored into the price of the fruit. Providing your own containers could potentially allow you to reduce the final price, but it also ensures fewer touchpoints outside your home while reserving receptacles for others. And if you know you won't save the containers you bring home from the farm, it's better for the environment to bring along something that's reusable.

blueberry picking in rochester ny
Captured at Green Acre Farms
My top picks for u pick blueberries in Rochester include Green Acre Farms in Greece and G&S Orchards in Walworth. Be sure to check out Hurd Orchards in Holley, Burch Farms in Hilton and Whittier Fruit Farm in Gates, as well! I've seen that Chase Farms also offers blueberry picking now, too! 

U Pick Peaches Rochester

Stone fruit season is my absolute favorite time of year! Peaches are my hands-down number one pick, but I also love nectarines and plums. Stone fruit season typically signals the end of the summer, so you can expect local peaches, nectarines, apricots, and plums to appear by early August. Many farms will offer different varieties to extend the season throughout the month and into September.

PRO TIP: Learn the difference between freestone and clingstone peaches! As their names suggest, freestone peaches have flesh that easily pulls away from the pit, while clingstone peaches won't provide that clean break. One type isn't inherently better than the other (and there are many different varieties within these two options!), but freestone peaches are especially good for eating, as only the pit is left at the end. They're also excellent for baking. Clingstone peaches are typically smaller and juicier, so they're well-suited for canning and preserving. No matter which kind you try, you'll be in for a delicious treat.

where to pick peaches in rochester ny
Captured at Green Acre Farms
My favorite place for stone fruit and u pick peaches Rochester has to provide is Green Acre Farms in Greece. They offer pick your own peaches, nectarines, plums, and prunes, along with many other goodies. (Bonus: they also have an incredible ice cream stand and make the best fresh peach sundaes I've ever had!) I would also recommend Hurd Orchards in Holley and Watt Farms in Albion for u pick peaches.

Sunflower Fields in Rochester

While this doesn't fall under the category of fruit picking in Rochester, I did want to mention my love of sunflower fields and where you can see some yourself. Sunflower season is happening as I type this post, which means you should be on the lookout for sunnies starting in mid-August. Many working farms also offer sunflower fields as an attraction for locals. That means that if you're on a mission to find the most beautiful sunflower field Rochester can provide, you may also have an opportunity to support local growers. While some farms have ticketed events for sunflower season, others will allow the public to view their fields and snap some photos for free.

PRO TIP: Be respectful of the fields at all times! Many fields do naturally (or by design) have some bare areas and paths that make for perfect photos. But do not go traipsing through a field and make your own path. You'll want to make sure that the field is preserved for everyone to enjoy. That also means you should not cut down flowers (unless you're given the okay – and a pair of scissors – by the owner to do so) or destroy anything for the sake of an Instagram shot. Follow all instructions laid out by the farm. And if you aren't sure whether a field is technically accessible to the public, do nothing more than take a quick photo without venturing into the flowers themselves.

sunflower field rochester ny
Photo credit: Emma Rizzo (captured at Frederick Farms)
My favorite sunflower field in the Rochester area is at Frederick Farms in Clifton Springs. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for growing updated! I'd also recommend checking out Wickham Farms' Sunflower Spectacular event as well, slated to run from August 11 through Labor Day (it looks like they're starting later this year, which I feel is wise). I've also seen some sunflower fields in Rochester at a few other locations, including Hopkins Farm in the Brighton/Pittsford area (at the intersection of Calkins Rd. and Clover St.) and in Macedon.

U Pick Apples Rochester NY

A lot of us are especially eager for fall's arrival this year, so it's a good time to figure out where you'll go apple picking in Rochester! New York State is known for its apples and apple orchards are certainly plentiful here. If you're searching for the best places for pick your own apples NY state can provide, you won't have to look too far. Typically, you'll be able to head to one of these u pick farms in Rochester for apples starting in mid-September and through early- to mid-October (though some farms start the season earlier). Be sure to schedule your visit when your favorite variety is at its peak!

PRO TIP: Keep your pets at home! Although it might seem like a great photo op to bring your pup along for a day of picking, it's usually prohibited by local u pick farms (with the exception of service animals). Because many crops grow close to the ground and fruit may be picked up after being discarded, the presence of animals increases the risk of food contamination. Always check before you assume you can bring your pet on your u pick excursion; otherwise, you may be asked to leave in order to protect everyone else's health and safety.

u pick apples rochester ny
Captured at Langoner Farms
I have several places for u pick apples Rochester NY locals should visit! My favorite spots include Lagoner Farms in Williamson and Wickham Farms in Penfield. I'd also recommend G&S Orchards in Walworth, Green Acre Farms in Greece, Schutt's Apple Mill in Webster, Burch Farms in Hilton, and Whittier Fruit Farm in Gates.

Rochester NY Corn Mazes and U Pick Pumpkins

There's nothing quite like fall in upstate New York – and you'll probably be looking out for the best pumpkin patch Rochester NY can provide come October. U pick pumpkins may technically be available in mid- to late-September, but visiting a pumpkin patch in Rochester is a definite must for spooky season. Don't forget to visit a corn maze or go on a hayride while you're there! This is a great time of year to visit several u pick farms in Rochester for pumpkins, gourds, maize mazes, and much more.

PRO TIP: Try to schedule your visit on a weekday, if you're able! With only so many beautiful free days during the fall, families flock to u pick pumpkin patches on the weekends. If you want to beat the crowds, make the trip on a weekday – or opt for an early or late arrival on the weekends.

pumpkin patch in rochester ny
Photo credit: Emma Rizzo (captured at Wickham Farms)
My top contenders for the best pumpkin patch near Rochester NY are Wickham Farms in Penfield, Powers Farm Market in Pittsford, and Long Acre Farms in Macedon. All three offer fun family activities, but Long Acre is also known for its corn mazes (and moonlight mazes!), which are a huge highlight of the fall season. Other options for pick your own pumpkins in Western NY include G&S Orchards in Walworth and many others. I'm also dying to go to the Great Pumpkin Farm in Clarence (about an hour's drive from Rochester), which has tons of offerings available.

stone fruit rochester ny
Photo credit: Emma Rizzo (captured at Green Acre Farms)
And there you have it – my LONG list of u pick recommendations! This year has certainly been a challenging one for all of us, so I'm overjoyed that I've still been able to visit many of these farms and know that the owners and staff are doing everything possible to keep everyone safe. One of the great things about the u pick farms Rochester NY families already enjoy is that they offer a healthy, low-risk way to spend time outdoors and to support local agriculture. While some changes have been made and individuals still need to practice diligence to protect themselves and others, I've felt really encouraged by how many of these Rochester NY u pick farms are making a concerted effort to lower the risk for everyone involved. Be sure to bring your masks!

As the harvest season continues through the fall and begins again next summer, I'll be sure to come back and update this post with any new information (including COVID-19 changes and regulations) that may be helpful. While this is by no means an expansive list of all of the u pick farms Rochester NY has to offer, I hope my recommendations can help to point you in the right direction for all of your summer and fall fun!

1 comment:

  1. this is so cute.. I really love the plums pics!! That outfit is perfect. You are so cute!


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