Pick Your Own Asheville Berry Adventure
Make the Most of the Area’s Abundant Berry Season
From farms to forests, berries burst their way onto the Asheville scene beginning in May, and continue to brighten our ice cream and cereal bowls through late November. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, wineberries, and raspberries (both black and red) are on menus, in the fields, at the farmers markets, and in the wilds of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Here’s how and where to get your soon-to-be-stained hands on them.
Wild blueberries are ripe for the picking along the Blue Ridge Parkway toward the end of August into early Fall, making a great end-of-summer family outing. The most popular spots include Craggy Gardens (MP 364), Graveyard Fields (MP 418) and Black Balsam Knob (MP 420). So grab a bucket, and a cooler if you have a long drive ahead of you, and enjoy the scenic ride.
The most difficult (really, the only difficult) part of berry picking is choosing the right time to go. If you keep up with these U-Pick farms on their websites or give them a shout before you head out, they will let you know which (if any) berries are available. Bring along a picnic, and if you aren’t full from stuffing your face with fresh-off-the-bush berries, you might just make a day of it. Of course unlike wild berries, you have to pay, but you get a gold star for supporting local farmers. And is there a more fun, delicious way to teach your kids to appreciate where their food comes from? Here are some of our picks:
- The Berry Farm, Marshall, N.C.
- Dogwood Hills Farm, Weaverville, N.C.
- McKinney Small Fruit, Fletcher, N.C.
- Cloud 9 Farm, Fletcher, N.C.
- Hickory Nut Gap Farm, Fairview, N.C.
- Long Branch Environmental Education Center, Leicester, N.C.
To Market, To Market
If you want farm fresh berries, but don’t have the time to pick them yourself, visit one of several area tailgate and farmers markets. From Weaverville to Biltmore Park, you’ll find farmers selling juicy berries along with other fresh and in-season produce.
On the Menu
In Asheville, you can’t throw a frisbee without hitting a farm-to-table restaurant. From fine dining to frozen treats, area chefs celebrate our local berries in some pretty inspiring ways. Here’s just a taste:
For breakfast, Early Girl Eatery adds local berries to its multigrain pancakes and Morning Green Salad. You’ll also find local berries (when available) in Early Girl’s sides of fruit.
Green Sage Cafe features local berries in seasonal specials as well as its smoothies such as the Blue Mountain, made with wild blueberries, bananas, strawberries and apple juice.
The Market Place has two desserts featuring local berries: a raspberry almond torte and a local blackberry crisp. Chef William Dissen and team also make an assortment of jams and preserves using local berries.
The Hop buys local berries to use for insanely delicious outside of the (ice) box flavors such as strawberry caprese, blueberry chevre, and its signature blueberry kale.
Ultimate Ice Cream makes a luscious blackberry ice cream, blueberry ice cream, and strawberry ice cream using all local berries.
French Broad Chocolates finds ways to fold local berries into many of its desserts, from cheesecakes and Ball jar trifles, to tarts and berry truffles. This summer’s collection of truffles includes local blueberry basil and strawberry shortcake flavors. ;