On the Road: Berry Picking

By Liz Horton - bio l email

It's strawberry season, and one local patch is ready to be picked. The berries at the Hall Family Farm are ripe, red and juicy. This week I took a trip to the farm to try my luck at picking.

Kevin and Lara Hall run the farm in Ballantyne. They say now is the perfect time to pick. "The crop is in it's peak now, so you can go out there and pick a bucket of strawberries in 3 or 4 minutes easily," said Kevin. I asked him why his farm grown strawberries taste sweeter than the ones at the supermarket. "There is no way you can sell a fully ripe strawberry at a grocery store that compares to something you can pick because it's so perishable."

Erika Gebhardt brought her four children to the farm for an educational experience. They each had turn at picking, but they're waiting to taste until they get home. Gebhardt home schools her children, and said this is a great activity for other moms, and she shared why. " Well I want them to know where our fruit comes from, it doesn't just show up at the grocery store. You know it's planted, and it ripens, and we harvest it, and that's how it comes to our house."

Hundreds visit the farm each day to pluck, taste, and play. The farm is in it's third season of growing strawberries, and they've got the process down to a science. They grow two types of berries at the farm. One field contains the Chandler berries, which are smaller and sweeter to taste. The other field is full of Camarosa strawberries. Camarosas are generally larger and not quite as sweet. They are also the type commonly sold at grocery stores. Though people visit for fresh produce their other free activities bring a smile too, like the berry maze, the duck race and the peep board, which is perfect for photo opportunities.

Strawberries start at just $2.09 a pound and admission is free. This makes supporting the local economy fun and affordable. And the experience continues after you leave the farm. The Gebharts have big plans for their fruit. "We're going to go home and maybe make jelly or jam or strawberry pie or strawberry shortcake, so this is a lot for them to learn," said Gebhart.

Directions from Center City

START:  Charlotte, NC US

1. Start out going SOUTHWEST on S TRYON ST toward W 4TH ST.  (go 0.5 miles)

2. Turn RIGHT onto W HILL ST.  (go 0.1 miles)

3. Merge onto I-277 S/US-74 W.  (go 0.8 miles)

4. Merge onto I-77 S/US-21 S via EXIT 1B toward COLUMBIA.  (go 7.0 miles)

5. Merge onto I-485 E via EXIT 2 toward MARTIN FRWY/PINEVILLE.  (go 7.1 miles)

6. Merge onto JOHNSTON RD/US-521 S via EXIT 61.  (go 1.9 miles)

7. Turn LEFT onto PROVIDENCE RD W.  (go 0.3 miles)

8. 10713 PROVIDENCE RD W is on the RIGHT.  (go 0.0 miles)

END: 10713 Providence Rd W, Charlotte, NC 28277-1563 US