Every summer my family used to drive an hour out into the “country” to pick strawberries, then we would spend the next day making preserves and other goodies. It’s definitely one of my sweetest childhood memories and something I wanted to share with my own children so last weekend we headed to Stade’s Farm in McHenry to do just that. Many of you might know about their shades of autumn festival but, for the past few years, they have been growing strawberries as well.
We started off by grabbing our little baskets and heading to the fields. There were tons of ripe berries and we picked only the reddest and sweetest ones. I will warn you that strawberry picking is back breaking work so it helps to have a low center of gravity (read: the shorter you are the better) to pick from those small vines. This is where kids really come in handy, although mine were not quite as helpful as they could have been. Don’t forget to sample a few of these super sweet berries as you go.
After we finished picking just over 11 pounds of berries, we took them to the big red barn to pay for them. The berries cost $1.75 per pound which is a bargain compared to grocery store prices.
While we were in the red barm, we checked out their other homemade goodies then bought some strawberry frosted donuts and strawberry lemonade slushies for a snack… Yum!
Then we headed over to the play area. For $5 admission (children under 2 are free), we were able to play on a giant air pillow, race on pedal cars, slide down a gigantic slide, wander around a small petting zoo and more. It was an absolute blast and, unlike their autumn festival, there were no crowds to contend with.
For those of you who are concerned about chemicals, while Stade’s minimizes the use of pesticides, they told me that they do use some pesticides to ward off insects and diseases. They do not use genetically modified seeds though so they’re one for two in my mind. However, if the berries were organic, I would have picked enough to freeze for the entire year of smoothies and yogurt parfaits (two favorites in my house). I looked far and wide for local organic strawberry picking and I wasn’t able to find anything within 2 hours of my house. I decided to let go of my ideals in the name of fun and a little family togetherness and it was well worth it!
And here is the end result of our hard work… Some strawberry pie for Father’s Day.
This week we plan to make a big batch of strawberry ice cream then we will freeze the rest of the berries (if there are any left) before they go bad.
Check their Facebook page for updates and picking conditions
Picking and play area open daily from 9-6:30 mid-June through early/mid-July
Lunch available from 11-2
Strawberries are $1.75/lb for u pick and $2.75 for pre picked
Admission to the play area is $5 per person, children under 2 are free
Do you have a favorite strawberry recipe to share? Want my pie or ice cream recipe? Comment on this post and we can swap.
Kristy is the mother of two young children, who join in her quest for unique restaurants, fun places to play and a little personal sanity in the process. She does her best to teach her children healthy habits, kindness, compassion and a love of nature while also learning that sometimes we need to let go of our ideals in the name of fun.
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Yes, I’d love to have your ice cream and pie recipes. My favorite is simple strawberry shortcakes w/ whipped cream. I also make Frosty Strawberry Squares, which are delicious and a cool treat on a hot summer day.