Fifty years ago, fruit was only available in season. Strawberries in the spring, peaches in the summer and apples in the fall. With new growing techniques, controlled storage warehouses and a mass transit system to move fruits and vegetables from coast to coast, consumers have grown spoiled . Many of us have also forgotten what good, fresh fruit tastes like. Pick your own orchards give customers a taste of fruit that is grown in season, without genetic engineering or energy wasting transport to stores. The fruit tastes better, is better for the environment and customers can support the local economy. In Arkansas, pick your own orchards are found in small towns all over the state.
Battle’s Cadron Crest Orchard in Guy opens in March for fresh Strawberry pickings. The Orchard stays open all summer with blackberries, peaches, nectarines, plums, watermelon, corn, peas, squash, zucchini, cantaloupe and tomatoes available throughout the growing season. Apples are available beginning in August, and Battle’s Orchard grows fifteen varieties from the Red Delicious to new varieties like the Fuji, Gala and Red Rome apples. If you don’t have time to pick your own, the Battle’s Creek Orchard Store in Greenbrier has a good selection of fresh produce.
Collins Round Mountain Orchard jus south of Conway off of highway 65 is known statewide for its peaches. It also grows plums, apples, nectarines, cucumbers and eggplant. Containers aren’t provided, so make sure you bring your own baskets or bags to hold your fruit.
Williams Berry Farm in Batesville has only three crops- blackberries, blueberries and grapes. Pricing is by the bucket and there are a limited number of prepicked buckets available every afternoon. There are five varieties of grapes available including Cynthiana and Chardonel for wine.
Arkansas Culinary Herb and Produce Farm in Jefferson County offers bell peppers, hot peppers, tomatoes, carrots, arugula, broccoli, garlic, mammoth dill, rosemary, stevia, sage, peppermint, thyme and spearmint. All of the produce is organically grown and can be picked and shipped to any place in the U.S.
Drewry Farm and Orchard in Dover has over 30 varieties of peaches, cucumbers, squash, potatoes, onions, melons, fresh honey, strawberries, pumpkins and living Christmas trees in the late fall and winter. If you prefer not to pick your own, you can visit their booth at the Pope Country Farmers Market in downtown Russellville.
Willow Springs Market just south of Little Rock specializes in chemical and pesticide free produce and flowers. Lettuce, spinach, sassafras roots, stevia, catnip and arugula.