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For those who think strawberry fields are found in Beatles songs instead of South Florida’s suburban sprawl, think again, city slickers: Our roadside u-picks are abloom with delicious red berries.
At 14950 SW 14th St., Family Farms is home to 10 acres of strawberries on a strip of farmland where Davie equestrian ranches smack into Weston developments. S’mores bonfires and tractor hayrides roar to life on the weekends and an open-air gymnasium hosts cardio classes. Bunnies and chickens roam fields of grape tomatoes and sweet onions.
Developers, naturally, have tried pressuring him to sell his strawberry oasis, but Hoover is not budging.
“They told me I’m sitting on millions but I don’t have the desire to live what people call the sweet life, because I’m already living it, brother,” says Hoover, as his sons, Nathan and Aaron, hammer fence posts along the property’s eastern border. “This is what I do until 2 a.m. every day.”
After planting his crop in November, Hoover’s fields ready to pluck. Florida’s strawberry season is roughly December to April. Demand is already high and visitors usually pick the fields clean before sundown on Saturdays, his busiest day of business.
Lane Brooker, the general manager of the 80-acre Bedner’s Farm, can relate. His fruit and vegetable farm on the western edge of Boynton Beach is the last strawberry u-pick in Palm Beach County, and January’s demand is so ripe that families can clear his seven-acre strawberry patch by midday.
“We just don’t have enough strawberries yet to meet the demand, and but we will over the next few weeks,” Brooker says. “Strawberries are five times as popular than anything else at the u-pick.”
U-pickers driving south to the Redlands will find an even stronger harvest, with handfuls of strawberry patches dotting the farmlands. Major-league Miami chefs Jeremy Ford (Stubborn Seed) and Michael Schwartz (Amara at Paraiso, Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink) were even spotted this month taking strawberries off the vine at Knaus Berry Farm in Homestead.
But beware that some farms charge admission fees to roam the fields, such as The Berry Farms in south Miami.
For u-pick first-timers, plucking strawberries is easy, Hoover says. Visitors are first handed a bucket, and they should pick only the fully red ones, avoiding any strawberries with greenness near the stem. Fresh-picked berries should be placed in the shade after picking. They shouldn’t be washed until they’re ready to eat.
“Don’t twist and rip it off like a bottlecap,” he says. “Using your fingernails, kink the plant and leave a little stem so you have a handle and don’t damage the berry.”
Ready to pick on South Florida’s strawberry fields? Here are five u-picks worth exploring:
Robert Hoover’s farm in west Davie once grew produce to sell to supermarkets, but now it trades in nostalgia, offering a farmer’s market and a petting zoo for cows, chickens, bunnies, goats and other farmyard animals. (They also sell baby chickens.) Hoover’s 10-acre strawberry patch is a bit steeper than other u-picks on this list – $6.99 per pound – but it may beat a day trip to the Redlands. The u-pick also features grape tomatoes and yellow onions, and the farm recently installed pavilions and an open-air gymnasium.
Bedner’s Farm Fresh Market
10066 Lee Road, Boynton Beach; 561-733-5490 or Bedners.com
Open year-round since 2010, the 80-acre Bedner’s farmhouse and farmer’s market has grown into a down-home destination in Palm Beach County thanks to matriarch Marie Bedner, whose family has farmed land since 1960. (The family also runs markets in Delray Beach and West Palm Beach.) Yes, there are country oddities here such as boiled peanuts and locally packaged honeys, hayrides and fall pumpkin patches. But Bedner’s strawberry u-pick is the most popular, charging $4.99 per pound. Also in season are u-pick sunflowers, green and red peppers, jalapenos, mini sweet peppers and vine tomatoes. Call ahead for availability, as Bedner’s strawberries disappear quickly, especially on Saturdays.
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Wintertime visitors love queuing up in long lines to worship at the altar of Knaus Berry Farm’s fresh-baked cinnamon rolls, gooey pinwheels of sugary goodness baked daily at the farm’s on-premise bakery. But its strawberry u-pick isn’t far behind in popularity, says Thomas Blocher, Knaus’ head of operations since 1984. While the cash-only Redlands farm marked its 65th season in October, it began offering u-pick strawberries again a decade ago ($3.75 per pound) on five acres. The first strawberries ripened in mid-November, Blocher says, but he cautions that until peak season arrives in late January, u-pickers should call ahead to confirm availability. “If the weather stays cool and it doesn’t rain, the berries will be sweeter and nicer,” Blocher says. (The market sells them pre-picked, starting at $7.25 per quart.) Pair your bucket of ripened produce with a strawberry milkshake from the bakery, also serving fruit pies and cheesecakes, pecan rolls and jarred jams.
Strawberry Fields of Kendall
9501 SW 137th Ave., Kendall, 16730 SW 88th St., West Kendall, and 12389 SW 128th St., Miami; 305-322-3388 or FloridaStrawberryFarm.com
Know that this no-frills u-pick operates three strawberry patches in Kendall, and while the berry prices are enviable ($2.75 per pound), you’ll find no fruit milkshakes or homemade ice cream at this roadside shack. But you will find pickable tomatoes for $1 per pound, and an embarrassment of strawberry riches for the jam you’ll undoubtedly make at home later. A Strawberry Festival will be hosted on the property from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 27. All three u-picks opened in early December, and eggplants, kale and shucked corn are also available at the market.
Juicy strawberries pre-picked for your convenience bulge from pint and quart containers at this Redlands institution started by Charles and Mary Idena Burr (known to locals as “The Strawberry King”) back in 1965. In 2021, Burr’s descendants left their family farmland and reopened a mile west on Southwest 216th Street, where their u-pick continues. The Berry Farms now charges admission ($9-$11 on weekdays, $13-$17 on weekends), and strawberry picking is a separate charge ($5 per quart, $10 for two quarts). Visitors can also crawl its market for tacos, smoked barbecue, ice creams, homemade jams and, yes, molasses-thick strawberry milkshakes – blended with the same fruits that flavor Burr’s decadent strawberry shortcake and chocolate-dipped strawberries. As with any u-pick, call ahead to verify availability.