Places to go berry picking in Toronto and the GTA

By Jeff Cottrill

Summer is berry time – and strawberries and raspberries always taste better when they’re grown locally. There’s a certain satisfaction in eating berries you’ve picked yourself, too. Luckily, the Greater Toronto Area is a virtual “Strawberry Fields Forever”: there are plenty of perfect destinations for a berry-picking road trip, whether that’s with the family or with fellow fruit lovers. So put on some old clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty and head to one of these farms. [Photo credit: iStock ZoomSpectrum]

Places to go berry picking in Toronto and the GTA

WEST

Andrews’ Scenic Acres
Since 1980, Bert and Lauraine Andrews have provided strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, raspberries, elderberries, currants, gooseberries and more at their 100-acre farm. But it’s not just about berry picking here: Scenic Acres also has its own winery, selling wines made from their own fruits, and bored kids can spend the day at the playground or getting free hayrides.

  • Season begins: Strawberries, late June; blueberries, mid-August; raspberries, September
  • Picking hours: Call in advance
  • More information

Brantwood Farms
Another family-run farm, this one lets you pick your own strawberries, apples and pumpkins – and you can also hit their onsite farm market to buy fresh fruits and veggies, as well as oven-baked bread, cookies, pies and pastries made with seasonal produce. The Pate family has been farming in the area for more than a hundred and twenty-five years, adding to their credibility.

  • Picking hours: Thursday to Saturday, 9 am to 6 pm; Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm
  • More information

RedBarn Berries & Veggies
Owned by Sue and Don Hilborn, this farm lets you pick your own strawberries as well as peas, and ready-picked raspberries are available for purchase starting in June. RedBarn proudly uses environmentally friendly methods to grow its crops, including a solar panel for energy and an Integrated Pest Management program that monitors pests and encourages helpful insects.

  • Season begins: Strawberries, June
  • Picking hours: Call in advance
  • More information

 

Walch Family Strawberries
If you’re heading for an evening Stratford Festival play and have some time free in the afternoon, why not pick some strawberries at the Walches’ farm? The family has been growing strawberries since the 1970s and owns other farms in Kitchener and New Hamburg with ready-picked berries for sale. The website even offers recipes for strawberry trifle, sauce and gelato.

  • Season begins: Strawberries, mid- to late June
  • Picking hours: Weekdays, 8 am to 7 pm; Saturdays, 8 am to 5 pm; Sundays, 10 am to 5 pm
  • More information

NORTH

Barrie Hill Farms
It would be so disappointing if there were no berry farms in a city called “Barrie,” but fortunately, this one owned by the Gervais family has strawberries, raspberries and blueberries galore. The only catch here: they don’t provide containers for free, so you have to bring your own, or buy them at the farm. Wagon rides bring pickers to and from the fields, and there’s a market and café/bakery onsite too.

  • Season begins: Strawberries, late June; raspberries, early July; blueberries, mid-July
  • Picking hours: Weekdays, 8 am to 8 pm; weekends, 8 am to 4 pm
  • More information

Brooks Farms
This farm is well over a hundred and fifty years old, but that doesn’t mean it’s no fun. In fact, there’s a full Barnyard Playland for the little fellas, with rides, a splash pad, ponies, a pirate ship, a sandbox, a corn maze, live shows with animated singing chickens and a whole lot more. As with Barrie Hill, it’s bring-your-own-baskets or buy them, but there’s a wide variety of fruits with which to fill them.

  • Season begins: Strawberries, mid-June; raspberries and saskatoonberries, early July; gooseberries and currants, mid-July
  • Picking hours: Call in advance or check the website
  • More information

Downey’s Farm Market
Downey’s gives visiting families the full experience: a giant play area, a corn maze, an onsite winery, a farm market and bakery, a petting zoo, a train and more. Of course, there’s plenty of fruit to pick too – strawberries and raspberries and apples. Note that there’s a minimum picking fee of $3 for strawberries and $4 for raspberries; the fee is deducted from the final price of the fruit you take away.

  • Season begins: Strawberries, June 26; raspberries, July 7
  • Picking hours: Weekdays, 8 am to 4:30 pm; weekends, 7:30 am to 3:30 pm
  • More information

Organics Family Farm
As the name says, here’s a farm that specializes in organic fruits, vegetables and meat. Organics eschews pesticides, inorganic fertilizers and high reliance on fossil fuels to offer the healthiest foods for buyers and pickers. Strawberries and raspberries are available for picking, and there’s an onsite farm market and bakery with fresh crops, meat and honey for sale.

  • Season begins: Strawberries, mid-June; raspberries, check the website
  • Picking hours: Weekdays, 9 am to 6 pm; weekends, 9 am to 5 pm
  • More information

Trapper Bob Farm
Owner Bob Nebitko – the Trapper Bob of the farm name – claims to have several different varieties of strawberries ready for picking, such as Governor Simcoe, Kent and Veestar. This traditional Ontario farm is also known for its varieties of sweet corn and other vegetables. Calling ahead is recommended; there’s a phone line with updates on picking availability.

  • Season begins: Strawberries, around June 20
  • Picking hours: Weekdays, 7 am to 8 pm; Saturdays, 7 am to 5 pm
  • More information

EAST

Applewood Farm Winery
Apples, strawberries and wine are on the agenda at Applewood, and the winery offers samples of the farm’s “famous” strawberry cider. You can get to the strawberry patch via free wagon rides, and the farm boasts a wide variety of strawberries available at different times throughout the picking season, as well as a kiddie playground and a straw bale mountain. Admission $8, including one two-litre basket.

  • Season begins: Strawberries, mid-June
  • Picking hours: Call in advance
  • More information

Forsythe Family Farms
Owner Jim Forsythe has more than four decades’ worth of experience in growing food, and his current farm offers peas, beans, tomatoes and pumpkins in addition to the strawberries you can pick in the early summer. The farm hosts children’s birthday parties as well, complete with scavenger hunts, visits to the farm animals and wagon rides. Admission $6 if you’re three or older.

  • Season begins: Strawberries, mid-June
  • Picking hours: Weekends, 9:30 am to 5:30 pm
  • More information

Reesor’s Farm Market
More than two centuries of the Reesor family have farmed east of the GTA, and today, they have ample strawberries ready for the picking. Straw is laid down between the rows for the picker’s comfort, and children are welcome, if they’re supervised. Another bring-your-own-baskets farm, or new containers are for sale at $1 each.

  • Season begins: Strawberries, late June
  • Picking hours: Monday to Saturday, 8 am to 5 pm
  • More information

Watson Farms
Another kid-friendly berry farm, Watson has an activity area, a petting zoo, a straw jump and tractor and wagon rides for the little tykes. The farm grows “Day Neutral” strawberries, which are available for the entire summer and beyond due to a special farming technique. Watson Farms recommends that you call its Crop Report hotline at 905-623-7252 before dropping by, for picking conditions and hours.

  • Season begins: Strawberries, late June; Day Neutral strawberries, mid-July; raspberries, early July
  • Picking hours: Call in advance
  • More information

Whittamore’s Farm
You’re going to want to make time to visit Whittamore in 2017, because after sixty years, this is the final season the farm will be open to the public. And you’ll be following in Katie Holmes’ footsteps – the actor visited Whittamore’s with her daughter in 2010. Aside from berry picking, your family can enjoy the Fun Farm Yard, which includes animals, rides, a corn maze, animated singing chickens and more. Admission to the Fun Farm Yard is $9, or $40 for a season pass.

  • Season begins: Strawberries, mid-June; raspberries, early July
  • Picking hours: Weekdays, 9 am to 7 pm; weekends, 7 am to 5 pm; statutory holidays, 9 am to 5 pm
  • More information
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