Last summer a good friend of mine gave me the MOST delicious peaches I had ever eaten in my life. Grocery store peaches were like cardboard compared to these sweet-like-candy, fragrant, juicy fruits. It turns out these peaches came from Hartland Orchard in Markam, VA, about one and a half hours northwest of Fredericksburg. A year later, I finally got to pick some of these beauties myself. Yesterday we packed the kids and took off on a rare family weekday off. It could not have been a more beautiful day either. Just off of exit 18 on I-66 West (about 5 miles west of Rt. 17) Hartland is easy to find and well worth the drive.
We were surprised to find that there were still pick-your-own blueberries, blackberries and raspberries in addition to rows and rows of the prettiest peaches we ever saw. We started up in the peach orchard and found that we barely had to take a step before our bags were full of peaches. Once we had more peaches than we could carry, we stopped down at the berry picking areas, and spent more time combing the bushes for the sweetest ones. The kids hit the lower branches while I reached the ones on top. It took a little persistence to fill up our boxes with berries, but with the whole family working together we got it done.
As some of you may know, I'm a huge fan of buying local produce whenever possible. I can say that our Hartland experience was another great lesson on how local, fresh ingredients can make all the difference when exposing kids to new foods. My kids may never eat a grocery store peach again!
There are a few more weeks of peach picking at Hartland, but they do suggest calling ahead. To get more information, visit their website: http://www.hartlandorchard.com/