Dreaming of strawberries, for cereal or champagne? Now through June, you can ditch the watery, white-fleshed giants available in supermarkets and pick your own. The fruit grown at local PYO patches is smaller and sweeter than those imported berries, and is guaranteed to send sun-sweet red juice dribbling down your chin. For a trek in the fields, farmers recommend wearing old clothes and bug spray. And bring an appetite—buttery farm-made shortcakes and jam-slathered treats will sate even the hungriest pickers.
Call ahead for crop updates and field conditions at the farms.
Belvedere Plantation (1410 Belvedere Dr., Fredericksburg; 1-800-641-1212; belvedereplantation.com). $5 admission gets you a hayride to the patch and one free pound of pick-your-own berries. On weekends, stop by the Plantation Market for a slice of of fresh-baked pie.
Westmoreland Berry Farm (1235 Berry Farm Lane, Oak Grove; 804-224-9171; westmorelandberryfarm.com). Homemade berry sundaes, rich shortcakes, fresh lemonade, and a variety of picnic foods tempt pickers from the fields at this patch just east of Fredericksburg. Grab a jar of homemade jam to take home.
Homestead Farm (15600 Sugarland Rd., Poolesville; 301-977-3761; homestead-farm.net). One of Black Market Bistro chef Barbara Black's favorite summer activities is picking berries here with her young sons. See baby goats, chickens and sheep on this working produce farm and berry patch. On the weekends, they serve up strawberry shortcake.
Huber's Farm (11898 Philadelphia Rd., Bradshaw; 410-679-1941; hubersfarm.com). The third generation of Huber family farmers operates this pick-your-own mecca, located 16 miles from downtown Baltimore. Strawberries are there through June, and blackberries until August.
Larriland Farm (2415 Woodbine Rd., Woodbine; 301-854-6110; pickyourown.com). Anyone not up for plucking ripe Northeastern-variety strawberries from Larriland's vines can peruse already-picked berries, jams, and homemade fudge at the patch's Red Barn farm stand.