If you think that you have to live in Portland or Northern California to participate in the gratifying experience of picking your own fruit off a tree (or bush) then you are wrong. Arizona has all sorts of places to pick your own produce -- apples, blackberries,artichokes, cucumber, peaches, and more are all available at farms across the state.
Take a trip to one of these family farms for some of the freshest summer produce. Some are right here in town but a few of the others might be a bit more of a day excursion.
Fenway Park Orchards, Morristown -- Allen and Carol Way have been growing desert fruit on their land just 23 miles northwest of Surprise for the past 39 years. Each of their thousand or so apple and peach trees are cared for by the owners themselves and are 100 percent organic. No pesticides here! The Fenway Park Orchards peach harvest begins May 19 and usually lasts until the beginning of June. The orchard grows red blush cling peaches and the larger white freestone variety, which normally ripen up toward the end of the season. Picking hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and Saturdays and Sundays. Arrive early for the best selection.
Silvas Farm, Somerton -- Twelve miles south of Yuma, you'll find this beautiful little farm where you can pick your own blackberries and tangelos. Blackberry season started early this year (May 2) but you still have a couple weeks to get down there and fill your baskets with the sweet, tart berries. If you haven't ever tasted a blackberry straight off the bush, we highly suggest you put this on your bucket list. The farm is open Mondays and Wednesday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tangelo season starts in late December. Make sure you call Sandy at the farm to make sure fruit is available before you make the trip: 928-446-8706
Aqua Linda Farm, Amado -- South of Tucson in the itsy-bitsy town of Amado, you'll find husband-and-wife team Stewart and Laurel Loew's beautiful 63-acre organic farm. The farm grows everything from pumpkins to bok choy to garlic. The Loews open their farm to the public ever Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. This summer, you can pick your own zucchini, summer squash, snow peas, okra, cucumbers, and bok choy and you can purchase freshly harvested onions and garlic.
Howard's Orchard, Catalina -- Get your later summer peach fix at Howard's Orchard just south of Tucson. The orchard will open June 20 with ripe apricots and crisp cucumbers with peaches and tomatoes to follow in July and apples in August. The Orchard is open Wednesday through Saturday from 6:30 a.m. to noon. Bring cash. Howard's doesn't accept credit or debit.
Schepf Farm, Queen Creek -- Schnepf's farm is one of the biggest and best u-pick farms in the state and it won't take you all day to get to there! The 71-year-old family-owned farm is a mecca for organic fruits and veggies and has even been Designated an "Arizona Treasure" by former Governor Janet Napolitano. For $1.50 a pound, you can bring home beautiful produce that you picked right out of the garden. Just grab a basket and get to work! Swiss chard, leaf lettuce, romaine, broccoli, radishes. carrots, kale, beets, cauliflower, and green cabbage are currently in season and starting May 12, you can pick up juicy desert gold peaches. The farm is open Thursday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Look out for sweet corn later this summer.
Folded Hills Orchard, Cornville -- On your way to the cooler temps of Northern Arizona, make a pit stop in Cornville to check out Leonard Nawrocki's orchard of fruit tress.The orchard will be open to the public June 15 and the trees should (fingers crossed) be filled with sweet peaches, crisp apples, and juicy plums. The orchard also has a limited amount of blackberries each season. Call 928-634-4649 in advance for fruit availability and when they are open. Be sure to say hi to Leonard, because he's super-nice.
Apple Annie's Orchard and Apple Annie's Produce, Wilcox -- These two big farms in Southeastern AZ offer all sorts of amazing produce that you can pick your self or purchase from their country produce stand. This year, the orchard will be opening June 30 with peaches ready for the first week of July and the produce farm will open the last week of June with sweet corn, green beans, summer squash, and cucumbers. Apples and pears will be available in August. Call 520-384-2084 to check and see what's available before you make the trip.
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Crooked Sky Farm, Phoenix -- Get out to South Phoenix and plan on gettin' down and dirty with some veggies. Farmer Frank Martin's certified natural farm doesn't offer u-pick veggies all the time, but this weekend (May 12-13) the farm is offering up their tasty artichokes for just $1 an artichoke. Bring your own shears, you're going to need them to get these babies off their stalks. Follow the farm on Twitter to keep up with what's in season and when you can pick your own produce.
Mother Nature's Farm, Gilbert -- Smack dab in the middle of Gilbert off Baseline just west of Gilbert Road, Farmer Wade Kelsall and family have been in the farming business since the '80s. The farm doesn't offer a full-time pick-your-own garden, but starting May 19, you will be able to pick your own ripe peaches right off the trees. The peach-picking begins at 9 a.m. daily until the May 27. Once the peaches are gone, keep an eye out for the apple harvest.