Nothing compares to the sun-drenched flavor of a freshly picked berry — so juicy and warm, it practically melts in the mouth. Fortunately for us, fresh berries are something Minnesota farmers do very, very well. According to Minnesota Grown, there are more than 90 farms raising strawberries here, upward of 40 growing raspberries and 30-plus with blueberries. Many of them offer berry hounds the opportunity to harvest their own fruit, but some will close early or for days at a time to let their crop ripen if they get slammed with visitors or pummeled by bad weather. Always confirm availability before setting out.
Ready to get picking? Check out Ashlea Halpern’s guide over at Explore Minnesota, which covers 10 berry farms across the state. Among the highlights:
🍓 Rod’s Berry Farm in North Branch, pictured above. Rodney Elmstrand grows pumpkins and sorghum, but strawberries put his 80-acre spread on the map. Rod loves to explain the ins and outs of the farm — everything from patch etiquette (pick only in your assigned row and use the red flag to indicate where you finished) to the proper way to pluck a strawberry (look for those with the deepest, reddest hue, since the green ones won’t ripen off the vine.)
🐑 Otter Berry Farm in New York Mills, one of the most family-friendly operations around. In addition to the usual (strawberries from mid-June to early July; raspberries from late August), there is a playground, picnic area, wagon rides, and farm animals.
🫐 Blue Fruit Farm in Winona, where antioxidant-rich fruits such as blueberries, aronia berries (chokeberries), and black currants are the specialty. Co-founders Jim Riddle and Joyce Ford are passionate about organic farming; they use solar power and rainwater for irrigation. Fruit is sold in five-pound cartons, alongside homemade jams, elderberry juice and sweet-and-sour honeyberries, a.k.a. haskaps, a thin-skinned berry from a honeysuckle shrub grown in Siberia for centuries but still pretty new in North America. U-pick for blueberries and black currants is by appointment only but takes place seven days a week during harvest.
To read Ashlea’s complete guide to local U-pick berry farms, click here.