a new discovery in olallieberries!

So last week, I posted about our day trip to Pescadero a few weekends ago to go berry picking. We went to Phipps Farm, where I’ve been going to pick olallieberries  since I was young. I spent many of my summers in France visiting friends and family when I was growing up, but every summer that we were here in June or July, we would go pick olallieberries and make jam. It’s not surprising that my mom took my to Phipps Farm, because it’s very kid-friendly. They have a farm with chickens, pigs, ducks and plenty of other animals to entertain the little ones. The country store is inviting, and sells fresh produce, dried beans, and other local items. There are picnic tables outside the store with rusted old tractors, play houses and gigantic tires for kids to play on. The entrance fee doesn’t apply to young children. It’s all very inviting for a family.

In light of all these great things, it might be surprising that I decided to go check out a different U-Pick olallieberry farm in Pescadero last weekend. After our last visit, I decided to do some research to see if there were any other options for picking olallieberries, since $3.00 per pound plus entrance fee seemed kind of steep to me. I found a website for Swanton Berry Farm, that advertised olallieberry-picking for $2.50 per pound. Not only is this cheaper than Phipps, but the berries are organic (Phipps berries are not sprayed with pesticides, but not advertised as organic). Since we had some friends coming into town who wanted to join us for another berry picking trip, this was the perfect opportunity to check out the new place!

The Swanton Berry Farm location for picking olallieberries is at Coast Ways Ranch, which is about 10 miles past Pescadero on Hwy 1, right at Ano Nuevo. There’s a sign just before the turnoff that points you in the right direction. When we arrived, we had a picnic on one of the tables near the berry fields, and got right to harvesting! At first, the berry bushes seemed a lot less full than the ones at Phipps, which I attributed to them being organic. I was a little worried that there would be less to pick, but was happily surprised by the overwhelming amount of beautiful, dark, juicy berries all throughout the rows of bushes. We tasted a few along the way, and they were absolutely delicious. Now, this may come as a surprise given the amount of berry-talk these last few posts, but I’m actually not much of a berry person. I love them in jams, crumbles and pies, but I’m not usually a huge fan of fresh ones, since they can be a bit tart. These were definitely an exception, and I’ve been snacking on them ever since Saturday. Another happy discovery we had after picking berries was that, if you pick more than 10 pounds of berries, they are $2.00 per pound instead of $2.50. Last week at Phipps, we picked 14 pounds of berries, for which we paid $42.00+ $6.00 for entrance. We would have saved $20.00 had we gotten that amount of berries at Swanton.

Anyway…I’m not saying that Phipps isn’t great. I bought some wonderful dried beans there in addition to the berries, cooked them up, and have been enjoying them all week. I love that they have local sources of beans and lots of kinds of flour. If you have kids, Phipps is a great place to take them. But, I’m very happy with my new find! Oh, and in the winter, Swanton has U-Pick kiwis! I think I see kiwi jam in our future…

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