Late Summer Fun-Picking your own produce

Written by: Hope Egan

Are you looking for a fun, healthy day trip that’s cost-effective, child-friendly and yields enjoyment for weeks to follow? Consider picking your own produce. Here are some tips for planning your trip.

1. Decide when you are going and what you would like to pick. Unlike shopping in the grocery store— where we have the illusion that most fruits and vegetables are available year-round—most u-pick crops have a short window for picking. In general, strawberries are available in June; blueberries are available in July; and apples and pumpkins are available late summer and fall. Visit to discover other available produce.

2. Choose which farm to visit. lets you find the u-pick opportunities in your county.  Keep in mind that Kenosha, Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties are also relatively close to Chicago.  Indiana has a lot of good u-pick farms relatively close to the city.

3. Call ahead. Often the Internet information does not reflect current conditions. For example, strawberries are generally available throughout June, but last year, because of the weather, many growers ended their season much earlier than usual. Double-check the amenities that are important to you. If you are looking for a full-blown “experience,” confirm that the hayride you saw on the website will be available when you go.

4. Pack well. Even though it is just a day trip, be prepared with a well-stocked car: water (you will get thirsty), a hearty lunch (you will get hungry, even though you can munch on whatever you are picking) and change of clothes (you will likely get dirty, wet or both). Sun protection also comes in handy.

5. Research recipes. Inevitably you will bring home more produce than you can eat. As you prepare your trip, look for recipes that you will be able to enjoy after you get home.

Chicago families share fantastic advice on how to navigate parenting in the city in our NPN Parent to Parent Newsletter. Download the full NPN summer issue to read more! Did you receive your Parent to Parent copy at home?  If not, visit My Account and change your mailing preferences.  Image credit -


Posted on August 18, 2011 at 12:43 PM