During these uncertain times, getting outdoors and picking fruit is a great way to relieve stress. You can also teach your kids about where food comes from and create a hearty supply of healthy produce.
There are some great orchards around the Bay Area where owners allow fruit picking. From cherries and berries to peaches and apricots, you can usually begin picking in late spring through summer, followed by apple season in the fall. Call ahead to make sure there is a good supply of available produce and see if reservations are required.
Apple-A-Day Ratzlaff Ranch – Offers Gravenstein, Golden Delicious and Rome apples. Fresh apple juice is made and sold. Picking season varies and is usually in September. and October. Picking is by appointment only. $2 a pound. 13128 Occidental Road, Sebastopol. 707-823-0538.
Chavez U-Pick Cherries – This is solely a U-pick cherry orchard. Usually opens in May. 23800 Marsh Creek Road, Brentwood. 925-625-3994.
Chileno Valley Ranch – It is primarily a grass-fed beef ranch that also offers U-pick organic apples and pears, art workshops and a beautiful venue for weddings. Reservations can be made on the website. Apple picking season is September and sometimes October. 5105 Chileno Valley Road, Petaluma. 707-765-6664.
Clearview Organic Orchards – Located in the beautiful setting of the Santa Cruz basin, this orchard specializes in Gala, Fuji, Honey Crisp, Mitsu and Pink Lady apples. It also has local honey, dried lavender, organic pumpkins and squash, and fresh-pressed apple juice. Season is usually September and October. 646 Trabing Road, Watsonville. 408-472-1958.
Coastways Ranch – It offers U-pick strawberries. The season starts in April or May. An offshoot of Swanton Berry Farm. 640 Highway 1, Pescadero. 831-469-8804.
Gabriel Farm – This family farm specializes in apples, persimmons, raspberries, blackberries, tomatoes, flowers and pineapple guava. By appointment only. Fruit picking is June-November. 3175 Sullivan Road, Sebastopol. 707-829-0617.
Gizdich Ranch – This ranch has Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Newtown Pippin and Royal Gala apples for picking, as well as a variety of berries. There are also tours of the apple orchards and berry farms. Berry picking is usually May-July and apple picking is usually in September. 55 Peckham Road, Watsonville. 831-722-1056.
Mike’s U-Pick – Offers cherries, peaches and nectarines. Picking season usually starts in May. Two Brentwood locations: 611 Payne Ave. and 3230 Concord Ave. 925-698-7459.
Peter Wolfe Ranch – Pick cherries, loquats, apricots and peaches. The season usually opens in late May. 700 Creek Road, Brentwood. 925-634-1308.
Smith Family Farm – Features peaches, nectarines, plums, pomegranates, persimmons, apricots, tomatoes and more. It offers U-pick opportunities year-round. 4350 Sellers Ave., Brentwood. 925-625-5966.
Swanton Berry Farm – Features a farm stand selling baked goods and organic strawberries, as well as U-pick strawberries. The season starts in April or May. 25 Swanton Road, Davenport. 831-469-8804.
Webb Ranch – Pick your own raspberries, boysenberries and blackberries. The season starts in late May or early June. By appointment only. $4 to enter, $5.50 per pound. 2720 Alpine Road, Portola Valley. 650-854-5417.