It’s the most flavorful time of the year! Yes, the emergence of Oregon strawberries – that most delicious (and rather short-lived) of seasons – officially marks the beginning of berry season in the Pacific Northwest. Whether you’re a new transplant or a seasoned Portland veteran, we can all agree that our strawberries Are. The. BEST! And what better way to enjoy that berry bounty than by getting some Vitamin D and serotonin while picking your own berries at a Portland-area U-pick strawberry farm?
Tips for Visiting U-Pick Strawberry Farms
Check on your farm of choice before heading out
This may seem a bit obvious, but the weather can be unpredictable (as can the demand for strawberries on a particular day). This spring, for example, has been exceptionally wet and cool, leading the strawberries to take a little longer to ripen. It’s always a good idea to check field conditions before heading out to the farm, especially if you are hoping to pick a specific kind of strawberry (Hoods are a VERY popular option). Most Portland-area strawberry farms update daily throughout the season, either on their website or social media.
Babywearing while picking strawberries can be…tricky
As the mom of two younger kiddos AND an infant, I’m a huge fan of babywearing. When it comes to most local berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc.), wearing my youngest isn’t a problem, and she usually ends up getting a decent nap while the older two have a fantastic time picking. Unfortunately, strawberry plants (at least usually) are grown closer to the ground. There is a lot of bending over and or squatting, which makes it harder (though not impossible) to babywear while strawberry picking. Maybe you just make that into your leg day? Or put your partner in charge of wrangling the walkers #worksmarternotharder
Practical shoes are a must
Even if it’s not been actively raining for a month prior, you will still be walking around a working farm. Close-toed, comfortable walking/hiking shoes or boots for all involved tend to make it an easier and more enjoyable time for everyone. If it seems even remotely muddy, I usually bring along a change of clothes for each kid as well, just in case.
Bring a water bottle because if your kiddos are anything like mine, the second there is any kind of physical exertion, I hear, “I’m thiiiiirsty!” To be fair, there usually isn’t much shade cover in the field, so it can get rather warm.
Don’t forget the sunscreen (and a hat)
Since strawberry plants need good sunlight to perform all the photosynthesis, there isn’t much shade in the field. As a Portlander who has just lived through months of seemingly unending rain and clouds, I can sometimes forget what the sun looks like and end up burnt in less than an hour. Don’t be me.
Backup plan for pre-picked
I like having a backup plan in the event of meltdowns (the kids, not me). I usually check with the farm when purchasing our box to see if we can downsize in the event that we don’t fill it before everyone loses interest and starts heading for shade/milkshakes. Having the pre-picked berries on hand means we still get to head home with enough to give the illusion of success and means I still get to make jam.
- Sidenote: Some farms allow you to bring your own containers for strawberry collection (usually charging by weight) whereas others provide a range of boxes (quarts, half flats, full flats, etc.) that you can fill as much as you like. Please check with your specific farm ahead of time.
Pick berries, take pictures, make memories. Once you acquire that strawberry goodness, check out some ideas for what to do with all those delicious berries.
To the West
- Hoffman Farms (Beaverton)
- Smith Berry Barn (Hillsboro)
- Blooming Junction (Cornelius)
- Unger Farms (Cornelius)
- Duyck’s Peachy Pig Farm (Cornelius)
- Dave Heikes Berry Farm (Hillsboro)
To the South
- Lee Farms (Tualatin)
- Koch Family Farm (St Paul)
- Albeke Farms (Oregon City)
- South Barlow Berries (Canby)
To the East
To the North
- Sauvie Island Farms (Portland)
- Topaz Farm (Portland)
- Columbia Farms (Portland)
- The Pumpkin Patch (Portland)
- Bella Organic (Portland)
- Van Laeken Farms (Ridgefield)