Hand picking some of nature’s candy is one of the greatest simple pleasures in my life. When I am loading up buckets full of berries while enjoying the sunshine and birdsongs, somehow market berries in the grocery store just don’t do it for me anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I am guilty of continuing to buy blueberries way outside of their season but they really do lose their luster.
Picking my own fruits while spending time in nature builds a special kind of relationship with my food that I would otherwise be lacking. I get to know the farmers and gardeners that put their heart and sweat into making the experience possible. I hear their story and the lands story. I learn about the unique little niche they have created along with the triumphs and struggles of keeping a fruiting ecosystem happy and healthy. It’s awesome.
The Edible Garden in Asheville is a place I love to go to for some snacks! They have an assortment of apple trees, pear trees and persimmons too. I met a man while I was there once. He was with his little girl gathering persimmons to bring home and make pie with. He shared some of their fruit with me as well as a story.
He told me about how the Cherokee used to gather buckets and buckets of unripe persimmons and smash them to make a sort of slushy out of them. Then they would go to the river where fish were swimming and dump the unripe persimmon slushy into the water. It would temporarily shock the fish and cause them to float up to the surface where the Cherokee would quickly grab them. Yet another reason to get out into nature to gather your food! Sometimes you meet interesting people with interesting stories to tell.
Other than the Edible Gardens, we have designated U-pick farms all over the place. With spring nearly in full swing, I’ve got the scoop on some of the best places for a memorable U-pick experience. Here are three of my top picks.
Flying Cloud Farm- This family owned farm offers a self-service U-pick stand on their farm. Not only can you pick from fresh organically grown squashes and berries such as blackberries, blueberries and strawberries but they also offer U-pick flowers. Buckets range in price from $5 to $25 and you get to fill the buckets with flowers of your choice. You even get to cut them. It’s a wonderful concept and optimizes that southern charm we all love so much.
1860 Charlotte Hwy. Fairview, NC. (828)768-3348
Dogwood Hill Farm- This gorgeous 10 acre farm is located in quant Weaverville. Here you have your pick of raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, concord grapes, cherries as well as an impressive selection of heirloom apples.
369 Ox Creek Rd. Weaverville, NC. (828)645-6286 firstname.lastname@example.org
Hickory Nut Gap Farm- By far one of the most well-known farms in the WNC area; Hickory Nut Gap offers blackberries, black raspberries and red raspberries starting in June. By Autumn they have a U-pick pumpkin patch.
57 Sugar Hollow Rd. Fairview, NC. (828) 628-1027 hickorynutgapfarms.com