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Satisfy your U-Pick blueberry, raspberry cravings at these local farms

Satisfy your U-Pick blueberry, raspberry cravings at these local farms

Strawberry U-Pick season was short and sweet, but that doesn't mean fruit farms are suddenly quiet. For socially distanced family activities outdoors, it's tough to beat U-Picks, especially when they usually entail a road trip to the countryside.

"We count ourselves lucky to be in a business where social distancing comes naturally for our customers while picking," said Allan Awald, who moved back from Seattle to purchase Awald Farms from his parents, Edward and Millie.

Blueberries, prized for antioxidants and immune-system boosting powers, are now omnipresent, while raspberry and cherry seasons are winding down. Peak times for apples and peaches are not far off, either. Even with built-in distancing and ample fresh air, farms have taken greater steps to ensure customer safety.

  • Always bring a mask; they must be worn at least for checking in and out, and at most farms they are encouraged in the fields.

  • The vast majority of farms accept only cash or check, but a few are veering toward contactless payment. 

  • Check before you go whether the farm supplies containers for picking or if you must bring your own.
Awald Farms blueberries picking quarts

A quart of blueberries from Awald Farms.

While Covid-19 disruptions took their toll on many dairy and produce operations this year, late freezes left fruit farms in a tough climate, too. Factor in the difficulty of hiring migrant workers, and these farms might be more reliant on U-Pick revenue than you might think.

Awald Farms

10692 Walnut St., North Collins

Hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. 

Fruits for U-Pick: Blueberry season is in full swing and should be available until early to mid-August. Red raspberry season is winding down quickly, but purple raspberries should be available into late July.

Cost: Blueberries are $2.50 per pound U-Pick.

Covid safety: Masks are required for customers at checkout and will be worn by employees. Mask-wearing is encouraged when picking but not mandatory. Pickers should use the containers — quart and pint baskets — supplied by the farm instead of bringing their own.

• • •

Becker Farms

3724 Quaker Road, Gasport (772-2211)

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Fruits for U-Pick: Blueberries and purple raspberries. Prospective pickers must visit the farm stand first to purchase a picking pass ($5), and then they will be directed to the fields. Raspberries are expected to be available through July 26, with blueberries available through the end of the month.

Cost: First pound is included with the picking pass, then all fruit is $6 per pound thereafter.

Covid safety: Customers may bring their own containers if desired. Masks are required indoors.

• • •

Bittner-Singer Orchards

6620 Lake Road, Appleton (778-7858 is a hotline that provides the farm's most updated U-Pick info). Disregard the website's mention of a special U-Pick parking lot, which is closed for the season. 

Jim Bittner Bittner Singer Farms

President Jim Bittner is in the orchard as his workers pick sweet cherries.

Hours: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. 

Fruits for U-Pick: Sweet and tart cherries through the end of July, which ends their U-Pick season. President and general manager Jim Bittner said tart cherries, popular for pie-making, remain plentiful. In past years, Bittner said his workers have harvested 250 tons of tart cherries after the U-Pick season.

Unlike many cherry orchards, all of Bittner-Singer's cherries come from dwarf trees, which rarely grow higher than 8 feet because of a special rootstock, so no ladders needed, Bittner said.

Cost: As long as customers pick 10 pounds of cherries, they cost $4 pound. 

Covid safety: Masks are required for checking in and out of the farm. As long as pickers social distance in the 25 acres of fields, there's no need for a mask while picking.

Bittner-Singer Farms tart cherries

Tart cherries are plentiful at Bittner-Singer Farms.

• • •

Blueberry Treehouse Farm

1897 Davis Road, West Falls (833-8733)

Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday; 8 to 9 a.m. Tuesdays reserved for seniors (65 and older). 

Fruits for U-Pick: Organic blueberries.

Cost: $3.50 per pound. Accepts cash, credit and Venmo.

Covid safety: The Treehouse will provide bags for small and medium-sized trips; those planning to pick a significant amount can bring their own containers. Hands must be sanitized before and after the visit, and social distancing must be strictly respected. There will be a specified entrance and exit, and one employee at each spot.

• • •

Erdle Farm

12229 Hanford Road, Silver Creek (410-0599)

Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Fruits for U-Pick: Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries.

Cost: $2 per pound for blueberries, $3 per pound for strawberries, $5.95 per pound for raspberries.

Covid safety: Pickers must wear a mask at the stand when picking up containers and checking out, and must social distance in the fields. Customers are asked to not bring old quarts for reuse.

• • •

 

Greg's U-Pick Farm

9270 Lapp Road, Clarence (741-4239, voicemail is updated daily with conditions)

Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. 

Fruits for U-Pick: Blueberries.

Cost: 1 to 5 pounds cost $5 per pound; 5 to 10 pounds cost $4.50 per pound; more than 10 pounds costs $4 per pound. Payment through cash or check, although there's an ATM on site.

Covid safety: Bring your own containers to avoid Covid-related concerns; a limited number are available to purchase at the farm.

• • •

Paul's Organic Farm

8213 Center Road, Colden (941-6905)

Hours: Noon to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday. The blueberry season could last until Labor Day due to the farm's varieties, though there may be breaks along the way. 

Fruits for U-Pick: Organic blueberries, which were slower than expected to ripen. Opening day was postponed a week to July 17, said farm owner Paul Cohn. No strawberries or raspberries for U-Pick this year as those fields are being replanted.

Cost: Quarts for $5, or a 4.5-quart bucket for $20  supplied by the farm. 

Covid safety: The farm will not reuse plastic buckets like it has in past years, and group tours have been canceled. Greater attention has been paid to the fruit stand, open 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, for those who would rather not pick but still want farm-fresh fruit.

• • •

Russell's U-Pick Blueberries via Whittier Fruit Farm

7399 Lake Road, Somerset 

Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Fruits for U-Pick: Blueberries.

Cost: $3 per pound

Covid safety: Masks are mandatory at the check-in and checkout areas, and social distancing is a must in the blueberry patch. Russell's offers containers for picking with a plastic inner lining. 

. . .

South Hill Farm

9419 South Hill Road, Boston (941-5882)

Hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, hours vary on weekends. Visit South Hill's website for more details. Judi Kulbacki opened the manicured blueberry patch for U-Pick on July 15 and hopes to run into August.

Fruits for U-Pick: Blueberries, about 5,000 plants in three separate areas.

Cost: From 1-15 pounds, cost is $3 per pound; more than 15 pounds is $2.75 per pound. 

Covid safety: Masks are required for checking in and out and while on the golf cart, which is limited this year to those with disabilities and the elderly. Families and groups are asked to stay together while at the farm.

• • •

Thorpe's Organic Family Farm

12866 Route 78, Wales Center (655-4486). The U-Pick blueberry field is 10 miles from the farm, at 1449 Folsomdale Road, Cowlesville. 

Hours: Thorpe's updates its U-Pick hours regularly on its Facebook page and through its newsletter. Weekday hours tend to be longer than weekend hours.

Fruits for U-Pick: Organic blueberries.

Cost: Blueberries are $2.60 per pound, pickers with fruit shares pay $2 per pound. Cash or checks accepted.

Covid safety: Pickers are asked to bring their own containers. 

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