In the autumn, many families make an annual pilgrimage to an orchard or a pumpkin patch to stock up on crunchy apples or that perfect Halloween jack-o-lantern. But did you know that many area pick-your-own farms offer much more than apples and pumpkins? Think late-ripening fruits like raspberries and grapes and all kinds of vegetables from broccoli to squash.
Here are some of the best local pick-your-own farms and what you might find there.
While a trip to Stover’s Farm Market is a good 90 minutes from Chicago, it is a worthwhile expedition. If you know the Stovers from one of their many booths at Chicago-area farmers markets, you know that they are as friendly as can be and they love their farm. See where the produce that you bought all summer long came from! Look for late varieties of peaches and nectarines, raspberries, grapes and pumpkins at this time of year. Fall weekends have the added attraction of hayrides and a corn maze. The Farm Market is just a short drive from both Warren Dunes State Park and the charming beach town of St. Joseph, so plan to make a whole day of it.
Famous for its homemade doughnuts, Garwood Orchards offers a nice pick-your-own experience only an hour from downtown Chicago. A horse- or tractor-drawn wagon takes you out to the field to pick. Fall weekends bring live music, pony rides and other family activities. Look for a variety of vegetables including sweet and hot peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, pumpkins and winter squash. With no admission and a low per-pound price, Garwood Orchards is a great value. Find out what’s available to pick by following the farm on Twitter @GarwoodOrchard.