- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Merryland, berryland isn’t just the refrain of the classic children’s tale, “Jamberry,” at this time of year. It is a reality at many local farms that invite customers to pick their own blackberries, blueberries and red raspberries, as well as other fruits and veggies.

There are many farms to pick from (no pun intended) in the area, including Homestead Farms in Poolesville, where farmer Ben Allnutt has 2 acres of blackberries and 20 acres of peaches up for grabs.

“I think people are looking for a day out in the country with their children where they can combine eating and entertainment,” Mr. Allnutt says. “The combination is hard to beat.”

The prices are roughly comparable to grocery store prices — $2.49 per pound for blackberries and $1.49 per pound for peaches — but the experience is not.

Not only does the farm provide a hands-on pick-your-own opportunity, but children also can visit farm animals and get treated to a hayride should the picking patch be far away from the parking lot.

At Hollin Farms, a four-generation family farm in Delaplane, Va., white and yellow peaches as well as blackberries are ripe and ready for picking, says farmer Tom Davenport.

“The flavor is great. There’s no comparison to a store-bought peach,” says Mr. Davenport of the pick-your-own peaches.

Hollin Farms also offers pick-your-own beans, carrots, okra, squash and sweet corn.

Below is a sample of local farms in Maryland and Virginia that offer pick-your-own opportunities:

• Homestead Farms, 15600 Sugarland Road, Poolesville; 301/926-6999, www.homestead farm.net - Open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily; but customers are advised to call day-of to make sure the pickings are good that particular day. The farmers, Ben and Maureen Allnutt, feature recipes for things like blackberry cobbler, blackberry coffee cake and baked peach pancakes on their Web site.

• Hollin Farms, 1524 Snowden Road, Delaplane, Va.; 540/592-3574 or www.hollin farms.com. Hollin Farm is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday for pick-your-own peaches and blackberries. Prices: $12 per peck bag (roughly 11 1/2 pounds) of peaches and $5 for a pint of blackberries.

• Butler’s Orchard, 22200 Davis Mill Rd., Germantown; 301/972-3299 or www.butlers orchard.com. Butler’s offers pick-your-own blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. While the farm market, which offers a wide range of local produce, is open 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (closed Mondays), the pick-your-own schedule varies depending on supply. Check the Web site or call for details. Prices include $2.29 per pound for blueberries and blackberries and $4.19 per pound for red raspberries.

• Great Country Farms, 18780 Foggy Bottom Road, Bluemont, Va.; 540/554-2073 or www.greatcountry farms.com. Great Country Farms offers pick-your-own peaches, $1.69 per pound, and blackberries, $4 per pint, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. The 200-acre farm also features hayrides, farm animals and frequent family events. Admission: $8 to $10 per person.

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