You have to really watch for Strawberry Season in Connecticut. It’s often over before you realize it came. This was almost the case for us this year. Fortunately, I follow a great Connecticut blog Out and About Mom, and saw their post on their trip to Rose’s Berry Farm, which reminded me I had planned to go berry picking this year! (And, if you’re from Connecticut, visiting Connecticut, or just wish you were here, you should definitely follow OAAM!).
This story was supposed to be simple… but as you might have read about my huge camera #fail, it turned out to be a two-parter! Read on (note that all photos are from the Matson location)! WARNING: Many berries were harmed in the making of this post!
BERRYING TRIP #1
We set out Tuesday morning, intending to visit the main farm on Matson Hill Road, as the post from OAAM indicated this locale was more kid-friendly than the Hebron Ave location. However, I neglected to call ahead (Ergh!) and found the farm closed till later this week. So we headed to Hebron Ave (not that far away), where Rose’s also has Pick-Your-Own strawberry fields. We had gone here last year, but I had been hoping to give my son the “full-farm” experience. Not to be!
After telling him we couldn’t go to the big farm, he spent the rest of the day repeating, “Picking and eating strawberries at the LITTLE farm!” Funny.
We had a great time at the “little farm” on Hebron, and picked 3 heaping quarts of berries for just $9 ($2.50 / lb).
We brought a clean shower caddy with handle to put our berries in, which worked better than trying to balance a large cardboard flat or handle several small quart containers. Again thanks to OAAM for this tip – picking berries is much easier when you (and your child) can carry the bucket easily. Don’t bring a bucket too deep, as the berries get smashed easily from the weight.
My nearly 2.5 year old really can’t tell which berries are ripe yet. He dutifully said, “It’s BRIGHT RED!” each time I showed him a berry he could pick! Love that kid! But eventually, all he wanted to do was run up and down the straw-lined rows while Mommy picked.
My tip: wear rain boots when picking, as the ground can be damp/slightly muddy, or dry/very dusty. And sometimes you might smush a berry. Rainboots are so much easier to wash off than sneakers. We love wearing rainboots whenever we garden!
Picking strawberries is no small feat when you’re 33 weeks pregnant. I hear the whole “primitive gathering” lifestyle is great for pregnancy because it gets your legs/thighs into that birthing stance and builds up your strength in that area of the body. Let’s just say I’m not going to be picking strawberries every day to prepare for childbirth. 🙂
We ate a bunch of strawberries for lunch when we got home, then after dinner, I mashed up most of my haul into strawberry freezer jam! Yum!
However, because I didn’t put the memory card in my camera, all those “amazing” shots I took… well, they were actually non-existent! Boy was I upset to find this out around midnight when I was writing this post. So we returned Thursday, mostly for a photo shoot, but… also because we could just use more berries!
BERRYING TRIP #2
This time, I called ahead and found that the main farm was now open. So we headed there. The farm at Matson Hill is lovely – several ponds create a relaxing atmosphere, and a farm stand houses crafted and canned goods for sale.
Now, if you go strawberry picking at Matson Hill, be prepared to stay awhile. I didn’t realize you have to ride the tractor WAAAAAY out into the back forty (or whatever farms call it) to get to the strawberry fields. Waiting on the tractor each way adds time to your picking! However, we LOVED riding the tractor up and down the bumpy farm roads (and if I am late delivering this baby, I am going to go for a ride here! LOL!).
Personally, I thought the quality of the berries Tuesday at Hebron was better than Thursday at Matson, and I am guessing that’s due to the considerable rain that fell between the two picking days. Despite the difference the rain made, Rose’s berries are SUPERB! Great texture and very sweet. It was easy to fill another quart of berries to take home.
It was not easy to dissuade my son from eating berries along the way!
An unexpected surprise – on the ride back to the farm, the tractor also stopped at the raspberry fields – turns out, Thursday was the first day of raspberry picking! Of course, we had to stop! I love raspberries. The picking was easy as the bushes were loaded with ripe fruit. We had to rush to get a pint filled between tractor pick ups, but had a good time!
After berrying, we had a snack outside, and spent some time playing in the fun and very toddler-friendly playground, and sat by the pond for a few minutes.
We’ve been going to Rose’s for blueberry picking several years in a row now, and I was excited to hear blueberries will ripen early this year. So, while strawberry season is coming to a close this week, be on the lookout for PYO blueberries at Rose’s by the end of June perhaps!
Do you go berrying with your kids? It’s a fantastic outdoor activity for families!