By KATHRYN ACREE
Our chilly winter seems to have produced a reward. “A cold winter makes for a better growing season for blackberries,” Barbara Reynolds of Montevallo said of her u-pick farm. “I have double the crop I had last year!”
If you’re more of a city slicker than you’d like to admit, a visit to a u-pick farm offers a chance to pick your own fruits or vegetables at prices generally cheaper than paying for the farm to pick them.
U-Picks in Shelby County
Blueberries in Sterrett. Bob and Joyce Balch will have berries mid-June until they are all picked, which typically is by mid-August. They are open for picking Wednesday – Saturday, 7 a.m.- 7 p.m. Call them for directions at 672-2526 or if you need more information.
Blueberries at Morgan Creek Winery in Harpersville. Pick mid-June and until the end of July. Look for the signs directing you to the winery off Highway 280 as you head into Harpersville.
Blueberries and blackberries in Wilsonville. J.T. Lyon will have berries starting in June and also a vegetable stand with tomatoes, okra and other delights. He plans to be open most days 7 a.m.- 6 p.m., except Sundays, and recommends you call ahead at 669-9205.
Blackberries and muscadines in Montevallo area. Barbara Reynolds will have blackberries in June and muscadines in August. Her farm is located on Highway 89 between Calera and Montevallo near the lime plant. Reynolds plans to be open Mondays – Saturdays from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Call ahead at 665-1585 if you need more information.
Other U-Picks Worth the Drive
Blueberries at Lasseter Orchards. This farm in Remlap in Blount County also offers a lawn picnic area and restrooms. They are open on Saturdays, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. For information, call 746-3077.
Chilton County Peaches. All seven farms are listed in a brochure updated for this season through the Chilton County Extension Office. The download is available at http://www.aces.edu/counties/Chilton under u-pick directory.
Vegetables in Clanton area. Acres Alive is a new u-pick vegetable farm located off exit 205 on I-65, one mile past Peach Park on Highway 31. Their location will have tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, okra and beans available for u-pick Monday through Saturday. For more information, call 746-5145.
For additional U-pick farms in our area and statewide, check out the Alabama u-pick operations guide available online at www.agi.alabama.gov. Select the “Ag Links” icon, then “Alabama U-Pick.” The guide also lists recipes for using your peaches, strawberries and blueberries.