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Posted on Wed, Jun 2, 2010 : 10:45 a.m.

Berry picking links: 'U-Pick' strawberries are ready this week

By Edward Vielmetti


Tantre Farms in Chelsea brought these organic strawberries to the June 2 Ann Arbor Farmers Market.

Courtesy Karl Rosaen, Real Time Farms

The pick-your-own strawberry season is short. Typically there are only three or four weeks when the berries in the fields are ripe enough to pick, and some years there are only two weekends when they are out in enough quantities where you can count on getting enough to freeze, turn into jam or prepare in quantities at reasonable prices.

At least two different local "u-pick" strawberry farms are open starting Wednesday, June 2. "Local" for our purposes extends out of Washtenaw County to adjacent counties, because there just aren't that many places you can pick berries. This list is sorted by distance from the center of Ann Arbor.

New for this year on the berry-picking front is the widespread use of social media, especially Facebook and Twitter, to let people know about picking conditions. Also new is Real Time Farms, which has photos every day of farmers bringing locally picked berries to market.

U-Pick berries

Rowe's Produce Farm on Martz Road near Rawsonville Road in the very southeast corner of Ypsilanti Township (about 18 miles from downtown Ann Arbor) has pick-your-own berries. The 2010 season opens Wednesday, June 2; the price is $1.49 per pound. The farm's Facebook page has crop updates, and you can sign up for email alerts to get more information. Rowe's notably also has pick-your-own peas; edible pod sugar snaps usually start a week after the strawberries, and the English-style shelling peas are ready a little later.

Whittaker's Berry Farm in Ida, about 45 minutes south of Ann Arbor in Monroe County, has pick-your-own berries. The 2010 season opens Wednesday, June 2; the "u-pick" price is $1.25 per pound, and pre-picked are $3.25 per quart. You can sign up for email or see the farm's Facebook page for day-to-day details. They grow the Honeoye, Allstar and Jewel varieties of berries. Get there via US-23 at the Ida west exit, which is exit 13.

Opening soon

DeGroot's Strawberries is in Gregory in southern Livingston County's Unadilla Township, about 30 miles northwest of Ann Arbor and due north of Lyndon Township. Check out its Facebook page for details.

Berries at farmers markets

Thanks to Real Time Farms, you can see a complete list of area farmers markets that have strawberries with photos.

U-Pick Directories has a list of southeast Michigan pick-your-own operations, sorted by county. I'll be looking forward to Wasem's gooseberry season.

Blog posts from previous years

In 2009, Michigan in Pictures featured a photo from 1940 of strawberry season in Michigan, showing a migrant worker picking in Berrien County. This was part of a photo series by photographer John Vachon, who worked for the Farm Security Administration from 1936 to 1943. See the University of California Press book John Vachon's America for more photos.

In 2008, Absolute Michigan noted that berries were ready to pick, and gave a simple recipe for strawberry sorbet (simple syrup, strawberry puree, lemon juice).

In 2007, Potato Girl in Michigan wrote of berry picking. She does not "recommend strawberry picking with a young baby, unless said baby likes being covered in dirt and strawberry juice and eating small rocks and pieces of straw (mine does)".

Note to self from previous years

Last time I went out berry picking in the hot sun, I reminded myself that it would have been a good idea to bring a broad-brimmed hat, a big container of cold water and sunscreen.

What to do with all of those berries

To freeze the berries, wash and hull them and then spread them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Put the cookie sheet in the freezer, freeze until solid, and then take the berries off the cookie sheet and store in bags or tubs.

The best way to make sure that you don't eat all of the berries at once is to label at least one container of berries as "beans."

You might enjoy Peggy Lampman's recipe for Strawberries in Puff Pastry or her Waffles with Strawberry Compote, or Mary Bilyeu's Strawberry Rhubarb Pie. Since it's the season, I suspect that more recipes will come up.

Edward Vielmetti goes berrypicking for every chance he can get. Contact him at 



Mon, Jun 7, 2010 : 6:02 p.m.

Got some Michigan strawberries from Whole Foods on Washtenaw and they were AWESOME. They probably weren't organic, though, or at least not from a farm that is certified organic. Also, FYI, I got them yesterday and by today when I went back they were gone.


Sat, Jun 5, 2010 : 9:31 a.m.

I wish I still had children around to do the picking for me. I did it once. The squatting and crabwalking just about killed me! I did have my kids with me that one time. It was great fun for them and I was able to fill lots of jars with delicious jam. Once I could straighten up, that is!

Mary Schlitt

Thu, Jun 3, 2010 : 9:59 a.m.

This article is extremely timely, I was hoping to search for upick sites online this weekend. Thank you!

Linda Diane Feldt

Wed, Jun 2, 2010 : 7:29 p.m.

I just came back form Barton Dam where the wild strawberries are also ripe. Much harder to find, and they are fingertip sized. But the flavors are intense, and wonderfully different than "tame" strawberries. If you see the strawberry leaves, hold them aside and look at the base of the plant. There are many animals who will get there first - but you can find a few!

Bridget Bly

Wed, Jun 2, 2010 : 10:56 a.m.

Thank you so much. I really appreciate your followup.

Bridget Bly

Wed, Jun 2, 2010 : 10:25 a.m.

I'd love to know which of those farms are organic (did I miss that?) since strawberries are one of the "dirty dozen" that have pesticide residue no matter how you wash them.