From Farm to Basket: Your Guide to Picking Pennsylvania’s Freshest Produce

From Farm to Basket: Your Guide to Picking Pennsylvania's Freshest Produce

Photo courtesy of Destination Gettysburg

By Kalena Thomhave

August 3, 2023

From fruits, to vegetables, to flowers, we’re in the midst of prime-time picking season in Pennsylvania.

In summer and fall, the Pennsylvania harvest is strong—a mix of vivid colors, though the exact rainbow depends on whether one is growing peaches, apples, corn, berries, or other fruits and vegetables. Of course, different areas of the state vary by temperature and thus by what produce is in season.

You can make shopping for your fruits and vegetables into a family adventure by visiting pick-your-own farms (often called “U-Pick”) this summer and fall. At these farms, you march into the field without an expert farmer by your side, armed with only a basket or bucket to gather your own produce. Your bulk fruits and veggies can of course be baked into pies or dinners, but you might also choose to can your harvest so you can have fresh produce throughout the winter.

Apple picking is a particularly popular fall activity in Pennsylvania — apples are grown in every county in the state — but you can also find U-Pick farms that offer berries, pears, cherries, pumpkins, corn, and even flowers.

From Farm to Basket: Your Guide to Picking Pennsylvania's Freshest Produce

Photo courtesy of Discover Lancaster

We’ve put together a list of pick-your-own options in the state to take you through the rest of 2023. Sometimes growing seasons are quite short, so mark what fruits and veggies interest you, and then make a plan to get picking.

Note: Many of these farms are small, family-run establishments that may not always immediately update their websites. So if you’re especially set on a certain farm or fruit and vegetable, call ahead to make sure it’s available for picking.

Southeast Pa.

Diverse U-Pick options can be found in Philadelphia and surrounding communities, since it’s the warmest part of Pennsylvania. Just 30 minutes from Philly, Linvilla Orchards in Delaware County has some of the best pick-your-own apples in the area. But Linvilla offers much more than apples. You’ll have to view their website to see what crops are available on a given day, but in early August you can likely pick peaches, corn, sunflowers, green beans, string beans, spring onions, blackberries, raspberries, at least one variety of apples, and even potatoes.

Brecknock Orchard in Berks County has an abundance of U-Pick possibilities. They offer the classics like apples (late July to early November) and berries (red raspberries, early August to early October; black raspberries, late July to early October; blackberries, late June to early September), but you can also pick vegetables like corn (late July to early September), eggplant (late July to late October), and many more including cucumbers (late July to late September), zucchini (early June to late October), and even onions (late July to late August). Check out all of Brecknock Orchard’s offerings by taking a look at their harvest schedule.

Southwest Pa.

The city of Pittsburgh tends to be a little warmer than surrounding counties in the mountains, which means that the more rural, agrarian areas of the state with U-Pick farms might end their seasons before farms closer to the city.

While the berry season has unfortunately mostly passed in southwestern Pa., you can still pick peaches and flowers at many farms while you prepare for the long and fruitful apple season. Simmons Farm, for example, has pick-your-own peaches and flowers each summer and even U-Pick corn. The farm is just 30 minutes south of Pittsburgh.

For fall day trips, Triple B Farms and Soergel Orchards both have apple orchards close to Pittsburgh. You can purchase apples you pick yourself by the pound. Both farms also have pumpkin patches for you to pick out your pumpkins for carving in the fall.

If you tire of apples, you can also pick pears at Norman’s Orchard in northeast Allegheny County.

Central Pa.

From Farm to Basket: Your Guide to Picking Pennsylvania's Freshest Produce

Photo courtesy of Destination Gettysburg

The farmland of Central Pennsylvania is ideal for picking fruits and vegetables to take home. While you can pick up chocolate in the area around Hershey and Harrisburg, we recommend setting aside some time to pick produce too. Strites’ Orchard in Harrisburg has been in operation for more than a century and is currently offering U-Pick blueberries, raspberries, and peaches. Be sure to check with the farm before heading out for a day of picking because growing seasons are sweet but short.

Adams County, in the south-central part of the state, features a beautiful countryside teeming with fruits and vegetables, and farms where you can pick some for yourself. Hollabaugh Bros., Inc., a family-run operation for the past several decades, is a particularly popular farm to visit to pick blueberries, flowers, apples, and pumpkins. The farm is located just 10 minutes from Gettysburg and also holds events to celebrate the season’s bounty. This year, the farm’s Peach Festival will be held August 12-13.

Northeast Pa.

The northeastern corner of the state is typically colder than the southeastern, southwestern, and central areas, meaning that the growing season will be a little shorter too. But this doesn’t mean it lacks great pick-your-own options. It just means you should get a move on and start filling up your vegetable baskets.

Susquehanna County’s Penn-Can Berry Farm grows both raspberries and blueberries for picking. In Lackawanna County, Lakeland Orchard & Cidery has, of course, an apple orchard in the fall, but in late July and August you can also visit the vegetable gardens to pick your own veggies, like tomatoes and peppers. The farm also has cut-your-own flowers so you can create your own bouquet of flowers like sunflowers, snapdragons, and zinnias, all for a fraction of what it would cost at the florist.

Northwest Pa.

The coldest parts of Pennsylvania can be found in the northwestern pocket of the state; areas in and around Warren and McKean counties tend to face the chilliest temperatures of any counties in Pa. The growing season here is more likely to start a little later, and be much shorter, than in other parts of the state.

Clorley Farms in Erie County is a great destination for pick-your-own berries; the farm has more than 1,500 blueberry bushes available to be picked throughout late July and August. And if you’re looking to put dinner on the table with your harvest rather than just dessert, you can head to Mason Farms in Lake City. Here, pick-your-own opportunities in late July expand from berries (red raspberries, black raspberries, and blueberries) to string beans, green beans, pickling cucumbers, and that Pa. favorite, beets. For late summer and fall, check the Mason Farms website to see what’s available to pick.


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