Nothing says summer like spending the day of opening of pick-your-own berry season with family and friends. And it’s no surprise that Fauquier County has some of the best U-Pick ‘em berry picking farms ripe with berries and rich in history.
Ask any resident what they like best about Fauquier County, and a lot of them will tell you that their favorite part is the geography: the natural landscape of rolling hills, farmland and forests for miles around. This type of land has proven a boon to local farmers across the county, many of which are currently deep into this year’s berry picking season. Messick’s Farm Market, Hollin Farm, Hartland Orchard, and Green Truck Farm, are all family-owned, and some have been operating under the same family for generations — eight, in the case of Hartland Orchard. The season for families to come and pick their own berries is typically lauded as a highlight of the year for all the farmers.
Farming is hard. These farmers are up very early (as early as 2:30 a.m. for the dairy farmers) taking care of their livestock and then moving on to caring for their vegetable and berry fields, all the while taking care of their pick-your-own customers. These farms are open for pick-your-own three seasons out of four, and are sure to have something in season throughout that time. Why do they do it? For the love of fresh food, mainly. Jimmy Messick and Caitlin Taylor of Messick’s Farm Market said, “Our goal is to bring people back to their roots of food production and picking your own produce is a natural part of that.”
Welcoming the community is paramount to all the farmers, who enjoy berry picking season and the customers who come out to enjoy the farms and pick fresh-grown produce. It’s all about the appreciation of the farms and the land. To enhance their customers’ farm experience, the farms also offer family-friendly activities. Corn mazes, family fun fields, strawberry festivals, pumpkin patches, and hay rides are just some of the activities offered at different times of the year. But Hollin Farm prefers to keep it simple and down-to-earth. Shannon Davenport said, “We want primary enjoyment to be on the experience itself. Being out in nature with the fruit trees, flowers, berries, and the birds is the main thing to appreciate. And we have views that will take your breath away. We serve locally made ice cream, which gets rave reviews. It’s a nice way to end a visit to the farm.”
Messicks Farm Market
Pick your own strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and more
6025 Catlett Road, Bealeton
May 1 through October 31, Monday - Saturday, 8 a.m. - 6 p.m., Sunday, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
The seasons vary with the weather, please check with the farm as to their timing for each fruit
Black Raspberries: June/July
Red Raspberries: July-Oct
Peaches: July and August
Before you go
- Always check with the farm by website or phone to verify their hours and available fruits
- Check with the farm as to payment methods; some will only take cash or check
- Check with the farm to see if they provide containers, otherwise, bring your own
When to go
Early morning is cooler and more pleasant, but keep in mind that if it has rained overnight, the berries should have time to dry before they are picked.
Things to bring
- Insect repellant
- Mud boots if it has rained recently
- Cooler with ice to transport fruits home
- Snacks or a picnic lunch
Triple Berry Pie
By Tiffany Black
store-bought pie dough, 2 rolls
2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
2 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, quartered
2 cups fresh raspberries
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 to 5 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons butter
1 egg white, beaten with a fork
1. Prepare the crust: on a floured surface, roll the pie dough to a circle about a half-inch larger than your pie plate. Press the dough into the pie plate gently, and trim and crimp the edges of the dough. Refrigerate while preparing the filling.
2. Place berries, sugar and lemon juice in a large saucepan over medium heat. Simmer, until warm and juicy, about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Gently stir 4 tablespoons cornstarch into berries and allow to simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. If the mixture is still runny, add another tablespoon of cornstarch and simmer for 1 minute loner. You want the berry mixture to be thick.
4. Remove from heat and stir in the butter.
5. Remove pie plate from the refrigerator and pour warm berry mixture into unbaked pie shell. Use second pie crust to make a lattice top by cutting the dough into strips and criss-crossing them.
6. Brush a thin layer of beaten egg white over the top of the pie and sprinkle lightly with sugar.
7. Bake at 400° F for 40-45 minutes total. Check pie after about 25 minutes and place a piece of tinfoil over the pie to prevent the crust from burning.
8. Remove to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool before slicing.