I have to say, spring and summer are my two favorite seasons. Not because of the warm weather, although that factor does help, but mostly because it means so many fruits are readily available. One of my favorite memories while growing up was shrimping in the Lowcountry and then going to the nearby farm to pick some fresh strawberries. To me, nothing says summer better, then eating strawberries fresh from the fields and warm from the sun. It didn't help that strawberry picking was a regular habit in my family growing up as well. My mother was guilty of taking us strawberry picking as children. We would be on our way to who-knows-where and if she saw a sign for strawberry fields, she would easily detour the ten to twenty miles to have us four children pick the dessert we would be eating later.
I don't know why, but it's been easily eight to ten years since I've been out in the fields getting some of my favorite fresh fruit, and between all these rainy days, I couldn't help but think about all the those times back when. To my surprise, I found there are a lot of strawberry farms here in the Capital Region, one farm which I just had to go to- Hand Melon Farm. Located right outside of Schuylerville (pronounced "Sky-ler-ville" according to the locals who corrected me rather quickly), in the town of Greenwich, this "pick your own strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, tomatoes, and peppers when in season" farm is no more than thirty minutes from our home here in Saratoga Springs. The best part of this Hand Melon Farm is that it was open for strawberry business June 10th and are only two dollars a pound.
Needless to say, you don't have to tell me good news twice and my family was there opening morning along with a dozen other families. It was a beautiful farm, nestled on a back road with mountains in the distance; it is a true picture perfect opportunity for scrapbooks I'll never complete. My husband, who grew up in the farming country of Ohio, had never been strawberry picking and it was humorous watching my son and husband going up and down the rows picking strawberries as fast as they could eat them. We also learned at Hand Melon farm that there are several different types of strawberries. I am no strawberry connoisseur, but found the Annapolis to be more tart and lemon-like while the Jewel was juicy and sweeter.
By the end of our visit we had picked roughly 7.5lbs in under an hour; all of which has now been turned into jam, pastries, and other strawberry goodies. In the end, my family left with a lot of good memories, laughs, but most importantly, a lot of red, delicious strawberries. It was such a good experience, that we are actually going again soon. Like I said, I love strawberry picking and like my mother, I see myself detouring those ten to twenty miles making my kids work for their dessert. Some people hate becoming their parents, but this is one ritual I don't mind taking on.
1.) Wear appropriate clothes and footwear. It probably doesn't hurt to wear sunscreen either. Remember, this is a real farm.
2.) If you forget to bring a basket to pick your strawberries, don't worry. They provide flats or quart size containers.
3.) Don't forget to stop at their country store on Route 29 for other goodies. I picked up a strawberry cookbook which came in handy.
4.) Don't forget to take cash. They also accept checks.
5.) Be sure to ask about the different styles of strawberries! The staff there is beyond friendly and helpful pointing out the best spots to pick strawberries!
6.) Hand Melon Farm is open Monday-Friday 9am-6pm, and Saturday-Sunday 9am-5pm.
7.) If you have children, bring a camera. You'll get a kick out of taking pictures of your little one covered in strawberry juice.