Fortunate for Fox Valley residents, there are multiple farms in the area that offer both pick-your-own and pre-picked strawberries, sold by the pound or quart. Each with rich history and tradition, these locations are all ideal for first-time pickers and experienced berry connoisseurs.
Porter’s Patch in Bonduel offers pick-your-own strawberries daily starting at 6:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and until 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Containers are provided — just bring the picking spirit! In addition to strawberries, seasonal offerings include snap peas, raspberries, blueberries and pumpkins.
“We see generations of families who come to pick each year, as well as the new families who have never picked on a farm before,” says Troy Porter, owner.
Strawberry picking is as much about the berries as it is the atmosphere.
“We’re out here in the breeze, away from the busyness of life. There’s a feeling of escape,” says Porter.
Oakridge Farms in Neenah makes sure to treat visitors to the full picking experience. Once pickers have gotten a provided picking container, a tractor-pulled wagon whisks you away to the rows of strawberry plants. Visible even from the wagon, these ripe, plump strawberries fill the air with their aroma.
“We recommend bringing sun protection, old shoes and plenty of water to the field,” says Jodi Leslie, owner. “Many pickers don’t realize that strawberry picking involves a lot of bending down. However, we see pickers of all ages and abilities come visit.”
Young couples, groups of friends, families with small children and even individuals could be spotted between the rows, on their knees searching for the perfect red berry at Oakridge. From 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and until 4 p.m. on weekends, eager visitors stop by Oakridge to gather strawberries for shortcake, jams and more.
“Pick-your-own strawberries are popular because berries are a fun and easy thing to eat,” says Leslie. “Pick-your-own carrots might not be as popular,” she says with a laugh.
Pickers have found a multitude of ways to use up their strawberries.
“I’ll be honest — when I get home, I’ll probably eat a large portion of them right away. I might also freeze some to use at a later date for a smoothie or some strawberry bread,” said Kathryn Sauter, a picker from Appleton.
For five generations, Cuff Farms in Hortonville has been opening their farm to the public for asparagus, strawberry and pumpkin picking on their 249-acre farm. The strawberry business at Cuff Farms has been increasing in size since the 1960s, and is now offered from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily. Containers and wagon rides are both provided for free, and berries can be purchased by the pound if you pick, by the quart if pre-picked. Additionally, honey from Knox Farms of Larsen also is available for purchase.
“People like selecting their own food, straight from the earth,” says Lois Cuff, owner. “They’re the first to touch these berries. There’s a real sense of purpose, because picking can be hard work.”
Cuff also stressed the importance of understanding the strawberry plant’s system.
“Here in Wisconsin, our plants only produce berries for about three weeks. People think of going picking, but then just say, ‘Oh, I’ll do it later,’ but there is no later. This year, the picking season will only last into the second week of July,” Cuff says.
Grab your straw hat and your six-quart box — these berries won’t last much longer. Happy pickin’.
—By Mia Sato