One of the things I love most about our home in the Maryland suburbs is that we’re just a short drive away from both the city and the country. In less time than it takes to drive into downtown DC, we can be out in a field picking our own fruit at Butler’s Orchard in Germantown, MD.

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We’ve been going to Butler’s to pick pumpkins since our daughter was a baby, but it wasn’t until last year that we started getting in on the rest of the pick-your-own fun. Getting started is easy: bring your helpers ready to pick, a container to hold your goodies (you can also pick one up at the farm), and head to your field of choice, where there are staff on hand to show you the ropes. It’s affordable too – strawberries are $2.59 per pound this year (versus $5 a pint at the farmer’s market).

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Last summer we picked blackberries and raspberries and dug our own potatoes, and just last week we picked strawberries. Strawberries are an especially good choice for the littlest helpers – they’re low to the ground, thorn-free and easy to pick. Even our 16 month old got in on the picking action, though he was mostly a fan of taking handfuls of berries out of the bucket and putting them back in again.

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A trip to Butler’s is also a great education in where food comes from. We do a bit of gardening at home, but we’re limited by space and a very shady backyard. After a morning at the farm, my suburban kids have seen how exactly blackberries grow and learned to pluck raspberries carefully to avoid the thorns. They’re proud of the produce we bring home and have helped me turn it into jam and muffins and oven fries.

The berry fields are open from 8:30 – 6:00 Monday through Friday and 8:30 – 5:00 on Saturday and Sunday. Sweet peas and blueberries are up next in June – we are looking forward to adding new foods to our pick-your-own repertoire!


Allison writes about life at home in the Maryland suburbs at Home and Never Alone.