Choose your own produce at a local farm

Illustration by Annelise Capossela

[MORE: Your Ultimate Guide to Summer Fun in New Jersey]

New Jersey summer produce is more than corn and tomatoes. In July and August, the Garden State’s bounty includes blueberries, blackberries, peaches, raspberries and more. The summer months are also those when sunflowers bloom. The best way to find out what’s in season is to go out and pick it yourself. Picking your produce is a fun and rewarding activity that allows us to see where our food comes from. It’s also a sure-fire way to spend a day in the age of social distancing.

If you’re in the mood for picking, check out our picks for U-pick farms in New Jersey.

Lebanon

Expect a peaceful picking experience at this calm and refreshing farm in Hunterdon County. Parking is free and there is no entrance fee. Pick peaches and cut dahlias as you like; leave a donation at the cash desk before you go. Proceeds will go to Valley Crest’s mission to donate fresh produce to those in need. Complete your visit with a walk on one of the farm’s wooded trails.

14 Allerton Road, 908-238-9696

Chester

Production options abound on this 600-acre farm. Come summer, take your pick of blueberries, blackberries, peaches and raspberries, or slice sunflowers for a stunning centerpiece. Visit during the week to avoid the crowds. Pick-your-own tickets must be purchased on the farm’s website.

1 Alstede Farms Lane, 908-258-6245

Freehold

This farm became one of the first in New Jersey to offer self-picking fruit in 1972. The summer months here bring peaches and nectarines. It’s money just to pick up. Open year round, the farm’s country store is a good source of culinary inspiration with its assortment of jams, jellies, sauces and spices. Bakery products, gift baskets and fresh produce are also on sale.

91 chemin Wemrock, 732-462-0756

Windsor East

Don’t let the name fool you; this farm is not just for birds, although they do sell ready-to-bake turkeys. A variety of U-pick products are available during the summer months, from sour green apples in July to blackberries and nectarines in August. Membership is required; just fill out a liability form and pay a $ 2 fee. To pick up, a $ 5 deposit is charged per adult and is charged against the purchase total.

201 Hickory Corner Road, 609-448-0629

Califon and Oldwick

There are three Melick locations in central New Jersey; however, only Califon and Oldwick locations offer U-pick. (Melick’s third outpost in Bridgewater is a free-standing market.) In Califon, visitors can pick yellow and white peaches. Reservations are required, and it’s $ 2.99 per person for one hour of pickup. Picked peaches cost $ 1.59 a pound for more than 10 pounds, $ 1.99 for 10 pounds or less. Oldwick offers U-pick, stem-loaded flowers.

472 Route 513, Califon, 908-832-2905; 19 King Street, Oldwick, 908-439-2318

Milford

Each summer brings an abundance of berries to pick at this farm on the banks of the Delaware River. The selection in July and August includes blueberries, raspberries and blackberries, as well as peaches and cherries. The products picked are billed by weight. A Phillips Farms bucket should be used when picking. The buckets cost $ 2 and can be reused.

91 Crab Apple Hill Road, 908-995-0022

Princeton

This farm, less than five miles from the heart of Princeton, invites visitors to pick their own blackberries, blueberries and flowers during the summer months. On site there is also a farm store open all year round, and for adults, a wine tasting room. All the wines are made from Terhune’s own products.

330 Cold Soil Road, 609-924-2310

Hillsdale

Dating from 1886, this farm is an institution of Bergen County. They specialize in picking peaches, with 12 varieties to choose from. The picking season usually starts in mid-July and you need to make a reservation through their website. Admission is $ 5 per person for anyone over two years old. The bags cost $ 12 and can hold 10 to 12 pounds of peaches.

244, chemin Wierimus, 201-666-0472

New Egypt

True to the name of the farm, there are only blueberries as far as the eye can see on Emery’s Berry Farm. The picking season generally runs from mid-June to July. Twenty of the farm’s 60 acres are used to grow eight varieties of blueberries. Admission is $ 2 per person; picked berries cost $ 3 a pound. The farmer’s market offers baked goods and gift baskets, as well as preserves, jams and butters, some of which are available without added sugar. Pre-picked blueberries are also for sale.

346 Long Swamp Road, 609-758-8514

Mullica Hill

The growing season here begins with sweet cherries in June and ends with pumpkins in October. From July through August, visitors can get their hands on blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, peaches, plums, pears, grapes and nectarines. They also have sunflowers from mid-July. Stop by the market for an abundance of blueberry produce, including cider, jam, salsa, and syrup, along with other homemade and fresh produce.

901 Bridgeton Pike, 856-478-2500

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