I’ve discovered a great way to enjoy the outdoors, promote healthy eating in my family, and support local farmers, all at the same time — patronizing a Pick Your Own Fruit farm.

Nearly every week this summer from mid-July on, I visited Tree-Berry Farm on Route 123 on the Norwell-Scituate line. Sometimes alone, sometimes with my 2-year-old son, I picked a few pounds of blueberries. It’s fun, it’s fast (an adult can easily pick a quart in 15 minutes), it’s even safe for kids, since the farm is divided into sections, and each is fenced in. And it’s relatively cheap. This summer a pound of blueberries there cost $2.60, while at the supermarket, the average price was $2.99 per pint!

Picked fresh, these fruits and vegetables taste better than what you’ll find at the store. They also last longer, because when you bring them home, they haven’t been sitting around on trucks or in refrigerators for days (or weeks) already.

Naturally, Pick Your Own food is only available when the fruit or vegetable is in season. But you can gather extra and freeze it, or make your own jam or jelly.

And you can feel good about supporting your local farmer. Maintaining agricultural land preserves open space and helps to stave off development. Often food grown at small farms like these is chemical free or organic. Or if pesticides are used, it’s generally in far less volume than on conventional, non-local produce.

Below is a list of nearby farms offering Pick Your Own items this year. You can learn more about local farms, farm stands, farmers markets and other venues for purchasing locally-grown fruit and vegetables by visiting the website of the Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership at
www.umassd.edu/semap/welcome.cfm.

o The Baker Farm, 101 Bakers Lane, Marshfield. Founded in 1700, this 93-acre farm run by Laurie Baker offers Pick Your Own strawberries, blueberries and pumpkins in season. Call ahead: (781) 834-4021.

o Tree-Berry Farm, 135 Cornet Stetson Road (Route 123), Scituate. Founded in 1974, this 9-acre farm run by Beverly Westerville offers Pick Your Own blueberries and choose-and-cut Christmas trees. In blueberry season (mid-July through August), they are open 7am to 1pm daily – just call ahead to be sure: (781) 545-7750. For trees, call in early November for dates and times or visit www.tree-berry-farm.com.

o The Blueberry Farm, 698 West Washington Street (Route 14), Hanson. Founded in 1947, this 5-acre farm run by Jack and Pat Concree offers Pick Your Own blueberries (in season) weekdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and weekends from 8-6. Call first as conditions vary: (781) 447-1584. They are members of the Mass Cultivated Blueberry Growers Association and have been growing for over 20 years.

o Lipinski’s Farm, 19 Franklin Street, Hanson. Founded in 1932, this 50-acre farm run by Steve Lipinski offers Pick Your Own strawberries in mid-June. They also have farm stands in Brockton, Plympton, and Pembroke, offer hayrides (by appointment) and a corn maze in September and October. Call (781) 293-3440.

o C. N. Smith Farm, 325 South Street, East Bridgewater. Founded in 1925, this is a 90-acre, third generation family farm run by Chris Smith, Jr. The farm stand is open year round, and they offer Pick Your Own peas and strawberries in June, string beans and blueberries in July and August, corn in August, raspberries in August and September, and apples in the fall. Plus they have a petting zoo and seasonal events. Call (508) 378-2270 for hours, or visit www.cnsmithfarminc.com

o Beaver Brook Farm, 645 Summer Street, East Bridgewater. Founded in 1920, this is an 83-acre farm run by Brian & Katie Cavanagh that offers Pick Your Own pumpkins from late September into November. Call (508) 584-6528.

o Coyne Bog Blues, 34 N. Carver Road, West Wareham. Run by Linda Rinta, this farm, nestled in beautiful countryside amidst lush trees, offers Pick Your Own blueberries seven days a week mid-July through August. Call (508) 295-3254.

by Kezia Bacon-Bernstein, correspondent
August 2008

Kezia Bacon-Bernstein’s articles appear courtesy of the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, a local non-profit organization devoted to the preservation, restoration, maintenance and conservation of the North and South Rivers and their watershed. For membership information and a copy of their latest newsletter, contact NSRWA at (781) 659-8168 or visit www.nsrwa.org.