Supermarket strawberries are impressive. Just one can fill the palm of your hand, and the color, a deep, shiny red that promises sweet juice. How often have you picked up a basket only to discover the beauty is only skin deep, the inside is white, hard and tasteless? Strawberries that must be shipped thousands of miles are picked before the sun has finished its ripening work. Once picked, the berries may continue to turn red, but they will not become any sweeter.The same is true for most produce. Fully sun-ripened fruit can’t survive the rigors of a cross-country journey. Apples and pears may survive the trip unbruised, but by the time they reach your table, they will have lost their satisfying crunch and flavor. If you have a hankering for fruit out of season, then you have little choice, but during the growing season, Connecticut farmers harvest bushels of flavorful fruit. Here is where you can pick up some of the best Connecticut has to offer.
For the freshest in-season fruit, head to the farm. Silverman’s has grown from a WWII-era cider mill to a full-fledged pick-your-own fruit farm complete with a petting zoo for the kids and an extensive retail outlet. At Silverman’s you’ll find strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, plums and several varieties of apples. They also offer vegetables, fresh-baked goods, and flowers. Silverman’s is open year-round.
Just a 20-minute drive from Downtown Hartford brings you to the rolling hills of South Glastonbury and Dondero Orchards. Four generations of the Dondero family have been working the land, which now boasts a 7,200 square foot greenhouse and bakery. They offer peaches, plums, strawberries, raspberries and pick-your –own apples. Dondero Orchards has a Community supported Agriculture program (CSA). CSA subscribers receive, over a 20-week period, a weekly share of seasonal produce and products at money-saving rates.
Pick you own fresh fruit June through November in the sprawling farmlands of Litchfield County. Ellsworth Hill opens their pick-your-own orchards for strawberries, raspberries, cherries, plums, peaches, blueberries, apples and pears. If you’re not a do-it-yourselfer, you can pick up fruit at their market stand. Ellsworth Hill also sells pre-picked figs, a fruit not often found growing in New England. While at the farm, you can pick up some fresh baked goods, and in the fall, test your sense of direction in their large corn maze.
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With two acres of strawberries, five acres of blueberries, a five-acre peach orchard and a 50-acre apple orchard, you’ll find plenty of fresh fruit here. March Farm, a family-owned farm since 1911, opens its orchards and fields for pick-your-own. The farm store sells pre-picked fruit and baked goods. You can make an afternoon of it with a children’s playground, animal yard, mazes and hayrides.
Yankee Magazine picked the Coventry Farmers Market as one of the Best Five Farmers Markets in New England. Its festival-like atmosphere includes cooking demonstrations, children’s activities, live music, local artisans and a great selection of organic and heirloom fruits and vegetables. With more than 50 vendors, it is one of the largest in the state. Located at the old homestead of Connecticut patriot Nathan Hale, a visit to this farmers market includes a history lesson. The Coventry Farmers Market runs from the end of June through October.
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