The 2012 Midsummer Guide to Berry Picking in Virginia and Maryland (Updated)

There’s still time to hit the bushes. Here’s where to do it.

By: Travis M. Andrews

The surprisingly mild winter has been followed by an unusually hot summer, which has led to an early berry season for many farms. Blueberries generally ripen in mid-June, and while this year saw a wave of early-June ripening, there are still a few places to find blueberries. Blackberries have also swung into season, especially in Virginia. We’ve updated our annual guide to berry picking in the area—but act now or spend the next year as a fruit philistine, munching on lowly store-bought berries.

MARYLAND

Frog Eye Farm

19600 Frog Eye Rd., Knoxville; call 301-799-8645 or e-mail info@frogeyefarm.com

Picking updates: Good news. Frog Eye Farm has a variety of blueberry stands, which has allowed for a healthy and lasting crop. Blueberries can be found in abundance, and some haven’t even ripened yet. They’re expected to last until at least early August, probably later.

Just for fun: The farm, which employes organic practices, invites visitors to bring a chair or a blanket to relax, enjoy the scenery, and maybe have a picnic in the beautiful orchard.

Hours: Open weekdays from 8 AM to 2 PM, Wednesdays from 8 AM to 8 PM, and weekends from 8 AM to 5 PM.

Homestead Farm

15604 Sugarland Rd., Poolesville; 301-977-3761 (for a recorded message of picking conditions)

Picking updates: Thornless blackberries are the name of the game at Homestead. Perfect for safe picking, they should be there until at least mid-August.

Just for fun: Not to go crazily off-topic in this berry-picking guide, but you can also pick some peaches while on the farm. And don’t forget to say hello to all the farm animals wandering around.

Hours: Picking fields are open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM. The market is open daily from 9 AM to 6 PM.

Milburn Orchards

1495 Appleton Rd., Elkton; 401-398-1349

Picking updates: Blueberries will be around for another week, and blackberries are ripe for the picking until mid-August. Around that time, raspberries will be making an appearance.

Just for fun: Look up, because that’s where goats will be. One of the many barnyard animals who call the orchards home, the goats will walk around on narrow walkways built over the farm.

Hours: Open Wednesdays from 8 AM to noon and weekends from 8 AM to 4 PM.

Rock Hill Orchard

28600 Ridge Rd., Mount Airy; call 301-831-7427 or e-mail rockhillorchard@gmail.com

Picking updates: Blackberries and raspberries grow alongside overbearing strawberries, leaving you with a regular cornucopia of berry choices. If you look closely, you might even be able to find a few blueberries during the next week or so.

Just for fun: In addition to berries, you can cut your own herbs, including basil, thyme, rosemary, dill, and tarragon.

Hours: Open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 AM to 6 PM and Sundays from 10 AM to 5 PM. Closed Monday.

Larriland Farm

2415 Woodbine Rd., Woodbine; 301-854-6110

Picking updates: Blackberries are making a strong showing, but raspberries are still a little scattered. Check the website or call the number above to see how they’re doing on any particular day.

Just for fun: Larriland also offers a variety of non-berry options, including tomatoes and beets.

Hours: Open Tuesdays from 9 AM to 8 PM, Wednesday through Friday from 9 AM to 6 PM, and Saturdays from 9 AM to 5 PM.

Butler’s Orchard

22200 David Mill Rd., Germantown; 301-972-3299

Picking updates: As the cheerful recorded message chirps, “It’s pick your own thornless blackberry season . . . and the picking is excellent!” Raspberries should be on their way within a month.

Just for fun: It’d almost be a wasted trip if you didn’t stop by the bakery to pick up one of the fresh pies, such as peach crumble, strawberry-mango, or the most appropriate one for this list, very berry.

Hours: Open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM and on weekends from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM.

VIRGINIA

Hartland Orchard

3064 Hartland La., Markham; 540-364-2316

Picking updates: Blueberries cover Hartland, but there’s a good chance they’ll be gone in the next week or two. Head there soon if you’re hoping to munch on some fresh ones.

Just for Fun: The peaches are plentiful for the picking as well, and the Hartland farm makes great homemade cider and honey to enjoy while taking in the beautiful views from the farm.

Hours: Open daily from 8 AM to 6 PM.

Hollin Farms

11324 Pearlstone La., Delaplane; call 540-592-3701 or e-mail hollinfarms@gmail.com

Picking updates: Blackberries have taken over the fields at Hollin Farms, and somebody needs to wage an offensive against them. Said offensive will likely end in delicious fruit, freshly baked pie, and berry-stained smiles.

Just for fun: If starches are more your thing, feel free to dig up some new potatoes with the aptly named dig-your-own-new-potato service.

Hours: Open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 AM to 5 PM.

Mt. Olympus Farm

23298 Jefferson David Hwy., Ruther Glen; 804-448-0395

Picking updates: Some blueberries remain scattered about, but they’ll likely be picked soon. Blackberries remain abundant, though.

Just for fun: On Mondays, all after-market produce sells for 50 percent off.

Hours: Open daily from 9 AM to 6 PM.

Great Country Farms

18780 Foggy Bottom Rd., Bluemont; 540-554-2073

Picking updates: Thornless blackberries are ready for picking, but they might be gone by the end of July, so act quickly.

Just for fun: The Bluemont BBQ Bash and Blackberry Bonanza is coming up on July 28; you can take a hayride, pick some blackberries, and even judge the four meat categories in competition.

Hours: Open daily from 9 AM to 6 PM.

Miller Farms Market

12101 Orange Plank Rd., Locust Grove; 540-972-2680

Picking updates: It’s blackberry season in Virginia and Miller Farms is taking advantage: Grab a container and fill it up from the blackberry patch.

Just for fun: For the carnivores, Roseda Beef is nearby, offering up cuts of beef—including a side, which is 400 pounds.

Hours: Open Monday through Saturday from 9 AM to 5 PM.

Crooked Run Orchard

37883 East Main St., Purcellville; 540-338-6642

Picking updates: Crooked Run offers five different species of blackberry, which can be picked for the next couple of weeks.

Just for fun: The farm, which prides itself on being strictly a production farm, also has the elusive summer apples alongside peaches and plums, all of which are ripe for the picking.

Hours: The hours change weekly, along with what’s available for picking, so it’s best to check the homepage for updates.

Westmore Berry Farm

1235 Berry Farm La., Oak Grove; 804-224-9171

Picking updates: You can probably guess: Blackberries are the sport of the season at this Oak Grove farm, and raspberries may or may not be on their way in a few weeks. It’s been a hard year, raspberry-wise, but fingers are crossed.

Just for fun: If you’re hankering after blueberries, the farm’s store is stuffed with products such as preserves and spreads.

Hours: Open Monday through Saturday from 9 AM to 5 PM and Sunday from 10 AM to 5 PM.