If you are anything like me nothing announces the coming of summer more than seeing local berries pop up on our market shelves. FINALLY – they smell the way they are supposed to and taste like sunshine SO much better than our off season imports. I have such fond memories of our family’s yearly expedition out to one of the local farms that have the option to pick your own. Getting out there with our sun hats strapped on, riding the tractor pulled wagon out to the hillside, and my Mom’s face flush from the sun and all the laughter. My Dad, the opposite of an outdoors-men, has his sweat socks to his knees with a worn out cherry stained t-shirt that he always wore along with his big eighties glasses that crowned his ridiculously happy grin. He loved it. All of us together, working for a collective purpose, got him all gooey inside.  We would climb the small ladders (my favorite part) and pick lush juicy cherries for feasts to come as well as a batch to freeze once pitted to enjoy over the winter season when the skies are not so blue. My Mom preferred the strawberry patch where she would tuck herself just so onto an old blanket and pick the sweetest smallest berries first for pie and the big lush ones for freezing…no matter where we worked on the farm one thing was certain, by the end of the day we would all be hot and sweaty and have mouths, chins, tongues and fingers dyed bright red from all our nibbling and the promise of cool vanilla ice cream and more strawberries as a reward when we got home.

If you and yours have never been to a 'pick your own' farm, the memories are not the only bonus. Often the prices are way more reasonable than in the Markets, and there is just something about being close to the soil, the owners that made it all grow and the taste, ohhh the taste, of sweet, sweet summer. Many farms have little shops to buy ready-made pies,tarts, jams, and chutney’s – or just a cool glass of ice tea to quench the thirst. Try hitting these local spots for your favorite fruit this summer. You won’t regret it!

Greater Vancouver – Delta Area

Bissett Farms
A wonderful berry farm that is winery to boot! (Westham Island Estate Winery) Can you say bonus! Make sure to pop into the winery and taste some of their lush fruit based wines. Big Blue barn on Westham Island starting with Strawberries, then Gooseberries, Black Currants, Red Currants and White Currants. Early to mid-July Tayberries, Marion berries, Blueberries then ending with Boysen Berries. All available for U-PICK and some will be available for Ready Picked. Bring your own containers as they only have a limited supply of bucket and baskets for sale.

Upcoming Events at the Farm and Vineyard
Strawberry Festival and Westham Island
Estate Winery's 1th Anniversary
Jun 28 & 29,2014 from 11AM to 4PM
you can pick (bring your own containers) or purchase strawberries at Bissett Farms. Lower Mainland Down Syndrome Society will have barbecued smokies, hot dogs, and chili and of course Strawberry Shortcake with all proceeds from the concession going to the LMDSS.

The Winery will be offering free Wine Tasting, samples of some of our new products including organic and gluten free products. There will be crafters and entertainment both days.

Fraser Valley Area

Maan Farm

Mann Farm has a long and proud history of providing quality local produce to the citizens of Abbotsford, the Fraser Valley and Greater BC. Today, Grandpa and Grandma Maan are retired, but their son Kris and his wife Devinder continue the proud tradition of Maan Farms, helped by their own children, Preena, Gurleen, Gaurav and Amir. Many things have changed since the farm opened almost 35 years ago. From one small berry stand, Maan Farms has grown into a place with something for everyone. They have a great Country Market bursting with seasonal goods, as well as U-Pick Strawberries. They also boast a Country Kitchen that serves up hearty lunches and treats and has a winery attached as well! Do you all see a theme?!?

Whether you want to sample the fresh assortment of berries, fruits and vegetables; enjoy the delicious ice cream and home-style jam, make some new friends in the critter corral, get lost in the fall corn maze or simply stop by for a visit in the family picnic area, Maan Farms is the place to be.

There are literally dozens of these farms all over BC. If you want to find one close to you may I suggest this web-site – it has all the info you could need.  Happy Pickin'!