Despite Austin's bustling city streets and urban landscape, it is surrounded by hundreds of acres of farmland, many of which are home to quality produce farms. A day trip to a u-pick Texas farm can be a great weekend activity for Austinites with a passion for fresh, local, and organic produce. An additional perk of harvesting yourself is the fact that there's no shipping! U-pick fruits and veggies are allowed to ripen on the vine for a longer period of time, which often leads to more pronounced flavors. This makes them delicious snacks to munch raw or excellent as part of your favorite recipe.
The Austin area has a wealth of local farms to choose from, but here are a few interesting ones to start you off:
1. Pumpkin Patches
Pumpkin patches are a fun fall family event. Kids will enjoy finding the biggest or smallest pumpkin in the patch, and any photographers in the family will find that pumpkin patches provide prime material for family photo ops. Red Barn Garden Centre near Anderson Mill is a u-pick farm with the added bonus of a petting zoo. Manchaca United Methodist Church mere minutes from Austin offers Movies in the Patch, and the Texas Big Worm Pumpkin Patch in the neighboring town of Bertram offers hayrides and a corn maze. The fun doesn't stop when you leave. Once you're home, you can carve your pumpkin just in time for Halloween or roast those pumpkin seeds with a bit of brown sugar, butter, and salt to make a nutritious and easy snack.
2. Christmas Tree Farms
Picture that perfect Christmas tree with a full skirt of fluffy boughs and the spicy scent of evergreen tickling your nose. Just 40 minutes from Austin's center, Elgin Christmas Tree Farm lets you select the tree of your choice whether it's short and bushy, tall and skinny or a classic Charlie Brown. At Elgin's you can also go on a scenic hayride or buy a fresh wreath. Kids can explore the maze or meet some furry friends on the farm. If you don't want to make the trip out to Elgin, Papa Noel's Trees have six locations in Austin and guarantee that each of their noble firs are a minimum of twelve years old, giving the trees an ample amount of time to develop into classic evergreen beauties.
How much do you know about pecans? Yes, they come in a pricey little package at the grocery store, but could you describe how they grow? If you go to a u-pick pecan farm, you'll learn that pecans grow on trees and are actually a fruit. An hour and a half from the heart of Austin, Royal Pecan Farms might be the king-pin of pecan farms. While Royalty Pecan Farms doesn't allow you to pick pecans, for a small price, you can take an educational wagon ride through the pecan orchard. While you're there, check out the selection of pecan desserts in their gift shop or visit the Pecan Harvest Festival in November.
4. Lavender Farms
Think about all the lovely people in your life who might like to stroll down the rows of purple and pick a fresh bouquet of lavender. From mid-May through July, you can visit Hill Country Lavender located an hour west of the city. Hill Country Lavender not only allows you to cut your own blooms, but also has a shop where they make their own lavender soaps, shampoos, and scents. Once you collect all that lavender on your walk, you could try mixing some with Epsom salts for a relaxing bath, or adding some to lemonade for a twist on a refreshing summer drink.
5. Berry Farms
Who doesn’t love filling a basket with fresh berries? Lucky for Austin residents, there are plenty of u-pick berry farms in the area to choose from. In the summer months, drive to the neighboring community of Fredericksburg, and visit Marburger Orchard which specializes in strawberries and blackberries. Marburger Orchard has been running for 37 years and has a reputation for quality berries. Alternatively, you could visit Sweet Berry farm to pick your strawberries. They also offer a broad range of fun harvest events including stuffing your own scarecrow, picnicking, and taking a ride on the Sweet Berry Express Barrel Train.
Because of the warm climate, Texas farms have the benefit of a longer growing season, which means harvesting your own food isn't just a summer activity, but one that stretches well into the fall. Whether you're interested in organic foods, sustainability or have young children that want to learn where their food comes from, there are a broad range of produce farms to choose from. As different produce comes into season, new picking opportunities will arise, making this one activity that won't get old fast. With Austin's prime location, hand selecting a lot of your own food isn't just desirable, it's feasible.
To learn more about Austin-area activities, contact JB Goodwin REALTORS® today. With several decades of experience in Austin real estate, we know where to find all of Austin's best-kept secrets!