Fruit and produce picking make a fun and educational outdoor activity for families while social distancing.
There are several local pick-your-own farms near the New Orleans area, and now is the perfect time to plan a day trip.
It’s blueberry season, and a majority of local farms open by Memorial Day weekend. This year, several farms started opening for the season in early June.
Due to COVID-19, you’ll find some farms promoting safety guidelines, such as requiring reservations in advance. It’s best to check in with your preferred farm to find out what changes are in place.
Most farms also don’t allow pets, and they recommend that guests bring water, insect repellent and chairs. Most farms also recommend calling in advance or checking their Facebook page or website for opening updates.
According to John Slemmer at Pickyourown.org, first-timers should get prepared before heading out.
The folks at Pickyourown.org offered some great tips for first-timers:
Good to know before you go: Most important, always call to confirm directly with the farm the night before or morning before heading out. You want to make sure that they are open and have the crops you want to pick available. Some farms have plumbed toilets, but unless you are a fan of port-o-potties, “go” at home before you leave!
What to bring: You’re going into a field; it could be muddy, so dress appropriately. Bring boots and old trainers, not high heels or flip-flops. Bring deet along in case for mosquitos. If you are allergic to a bee sting, bring your epi-pen, just in case! Also, pack sunscreen and wide-brimmed hats for the sun. Bring water or something to drink. Many farms provide picnic tables for food you bring.
When to arrive: Many crops, especially strawberries and blueberries, ripen daily, and get picked out by late morning. So go as early as the farm opens for best selection and easiest picking. Going early also avoids the hot sun and heat!
Quick picking tips: Know how to tell when the fruit you are picking is ripe and how to pick and then store it. See this page for picking tips for almost any fruit. When you get home, spread the fruit out, pick out any smashed or damaged ones and follow the fruit-specific tips for storing.
Understand the costs: Know beforehand how much you will pick and the total cost. It’s usually best to bring cash, but you can ask beforehand if farms take credit cards. Due to COVID-19, more farms are taking cards or requiring exact change.
New Orleans area U-Pick Farms, listed by parish
St. Tammany Parish
SonLight Farms & Nursery – 83481 Whit Road, Sun, La. | 985-241-0910
What to pick: Blueberries
Hours: Season opens May 27; Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The season closes on June 29. Pricing is $10 per gallon bucket for U-pick berries.
Ridemore Ranch and Berry Farm – 22154 John T Prats Road, Covington, La. 70435 | 985-875-1965
What to pick: Blackberries, blueberries, veggies
Hours: Season opens May 23 through end of June; In 2021, the farm says guests must reserve times to pick online to control crowds. Right now, Ridemore Berry Farm says it’s booked through June 19. Newsletter subscribers will receive an update if more dates open. Guests can subscribe to the newsletter via the website.
Website | Facebook page
Sunhillow Berry Farm – 33510 Magee-Mahner Road, Pearl River, La. 70452 | 985-630-1915
What to pick: Blueberries
Other available items: honey, jelly, eggs
Hours: Season opens June 11, typically through mid-July; Open Friday through Sunday, daylight until dark; call before arrival
Bachman Blueberry Farm – 79126 Crump Road, Bush, La. 70431
What to pick: Blueberries (u-pick, pre-picked, frozen)
Other available items: Muffins, jam, jelly, pepper jelly, blueberry lemonade
Hours: Season starts May 27; Hours are weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and weekends from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Farm owners say the stand may or may not be attended by staff on Monday through Wednesday, but customers can still bring exact cash and pick berries. Preorders during the week are also accepted. Buckets and removable liners are provided to guests to take home. Contact via Facebook messenger or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Loblolly Ridge Farm – 1000 Andrew Bankston Road, Amite, La. 70422 | 985-748-6843
3D Blueberry Farm – 41031 Highway 1056, Franklinton, La. 70438 | 985-839-2987
What to pick: Blueberries
Hours: Season opens on May 29; Hours are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday until season ends; Pricing is $10 per gallon.
Call or check Facebook page for updates before arrival.
L and E Blueberry Farm, LLC – 27159 James Creel Road, Franklinton, La. 70438 | 504-858-3086
What to pick: Blueberries (U-pick, pre-picked)
Hours: Season opens on May 31; Open daily from dawn (around 6 a.m.) to dusk; U-pick berries are $9 per one-gallon bucket. Prepicked berries are also available at different pricing.
Know of any other great U-pick blueberry farms near the New Orleans area? Contact us to add your favorite U-pick farm to our list.
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