Saturday, May 16, 2009

It's Pickin' Time!

It's mid-may here in central Texas and that can only mean one thing! The many types of berries our local farmers have to offer are now ripe for the picking and the peaches are just about ready too. This is a wonderful time of year if you are like me and could easily eat a pound of berries a day. Although they can be expensive I regularly buy berries at the store, if not fresh then frozen, after all they are a super food. But, despite how delicious the store bought berries always are, I happen to find the experience of taking a morning/day trip to a local farm and picking fresh berries especially charming and the berries I pick myself especially tasty!

But how do you go about finding these farms? Well, Blake over at www.pickyourown.org has put together an extensive database of PYO farms. The PYO website is amazing, it includes lists and details of PYO farms for every state, organized by region and then by county. The site even includes lists of PYO farms in several other countries and a large section on canning, freezing, and jam with illustrated instructions, tips and recipes. While I can understand PYO's strategy for organizing the farms by state, region and then by county (considering the sheer scope of his project) for my purposes I decided what I needed, or rather wanted, was a map with placemarks of all the PYO farms within the areas of Texas I most frequently travel. Enter google maps . . .



View PYO Fruit Farms in Central, East and South-East Texas in a larger map


If I am soon to be traveling from Point A to Point B and have a hankering for some self picked berries, I don't have to look up the counties in between said points and then look up the PYO farms in those counties, I can just click on my nifty map here and see which PYO farms happen to be near or on my way! The usefulness of the google will never cease to amaze me.

If I lived in almost any other state I probably would have plugged in the PYO farms for the whole state, but well, Texas is Huge! This half (which I personally like to think of as my half) took long enough and while admittedly it leaves out what are probably some excellent PYO farms in other parts of the state, I selfishly decided to not include those because well, I'm just selfish like that!

Just a side-note: Due to the early April freeze a large portion of the peach crops and other fruit crops across the state were lost. Almost all the fruit crops for this season are either late, reduced or in the case of some species, completely lost. You might notice that the info about each of the farms on my map have updates from last year's season. My suggestion is if you are interested in visiting any of these farms make sure you either check their website (if they have one) or call them to check if their crops are alive and ready for picking. In general, when it concerns PYO farms, this is an excellent rule of thumb, but I think it is especially important this year!

Happy Pickin'!