Of late, James has been trying to cultivate our backyard into a luscious garden paradise with the hopes of reaping bountiful booty. Tomatoes, herbs, cucumbers, blackberries, blueberries, and even a lonely fig tree (twig). Sadly, he realized after his Home Depot shopping spree that he planted the berry bushes in areas that do not receive much sunlight. (To his defense, the areas he chose had plenty of sunlight in the winter … until the trees started to bloom in the Spring and provide shade.) And if you know anything about berries, they like sunlight – lots of it.
Since our berries may turn out to be a big fat FAIL, we decided to pick berries on another family’s land: so to Southern Belle Farm we went! James also went with the intention to examine their setup with wild aspirations to recreate the scene in our vast, but sad, backyard. To his credit, the cilantro and basil are growing just fine!
Strawberry season just kicked off 2 weeks ago and when we went last weekend, conditions were most ideal. The weather was sunny, bright, and breezy and ripe strawberries were plentiful and just begging to be picked. Rows and rows of vibrant red strawberries for $12 a bucket! ($1 extra to take bucket home, which you can bring back for credit.) Pickers ranged from young families like us, gaggles of Girl Scouts, young couples, to elderly folk. Isaiah was having a grand old time picking orange, deformed, or overly ripe strawberries until he saw the cows. And off he went to examine the grazing bovine and play in the dirt road. Bit of advice? Bring lots of wet wipes and hand sanitizer.
Once the lure of bovine had lost its appeal, we paid for our three buckets of strawberries and also got a jar of their jam. For those of you who don’t want to do the hard labor of picking your own berries, pre-picked strawberries are also available for sale at a slightly higher cost of $14. And can I tell you how wonderfully friendly all the staff were? They were so sweet to us city folk. It was really refreshing to talk to such nice and sincere people.
On the other side of the farm are all the additional amenities and activities. A covered pavilion offers shaded tables for eating, concessions, and restrooms. There are tractor hayrides across the farm, kiddie tractor pull (“cow train”), bounce area, pedal car track, petting area with goats, donkeys, and chickens, and an open field to run wild.
Strawberry season goes until June and after that is the start of blueberry and blackberry season! And whoa, those buckets are also $12. What a steal! Given the fact that my son is a fruit monster, we will definitely be coming back later this summer to partake in more berry madness.
If you do plan to partake, I offer you some tips:
- Bring lots of sun protection as there is very little shade.
- Pick berries early in the morning for best selection and cooler weather.
- Bring a cooler to store your berries so they’re not roasting in a hot car while you do other activities.
- Bring cash or check just in case. They accepted our credit card payment but supposedly this is supposed to be limited to the Fall only.
- Go during midweek if you can for amazing deals announced on their Facebook page. (Buy 2 get 1 free, what??)
- Don’t forget your water so you won’t get dehydrated.
- And after a fun morning or afternoon of berry picking, go eat at the original Shane’s Rib Shack just a couple of miles away (and back toward the highway).
Southern Belle Farm
1658 Turner Church Rd
McDonough, Georgia 30252