It's Strawberry-Picking Time!

Bring home a bushel from one of these great strawberry farms.

strawberry picking at tanaka farms in Southern California.

strawberry picking at tanaka farms in Southern California.

Vine Dining: Harper Taylor, 5, samples the goods at Tanaka Farms in Irvine, California.

What's red and green and full of families taking photos? No, it's not an absurdly early Santa display in the mall — it's a strawberry field! Spring is prime strawberry-picking time and U-pick farms across the country have opened their gates to throngs of guests looking to sample the fruits of their labor. 

Here are just a few places to get your pick on. As always, check websites or call before you go to confirm times, dates and availability. 

Tanaka Farms, Irvine, California

Spend the better part of an hour learning how various fruits and vegetables grow while being pulled on a wagon behind a tractor. Sample some of the harvest of this 30-acre farm and pick a one-pound basket to take home. Through June. tanakafarms.com

Valley Home Farm, Wartrace, Tennessee

This 350-acre farm in southern middle Tennessee is open to the public for six weeks out of the year for strawberry picking. Sample their Sweet Charlies and Chandlers and meet the new generation of the Potts family who've lived and worked there since the early 1800s. Through mid-June. valleyhomefarm.com

Lewin Farm, Long Island, New York

One of the first pick-your-own farms on Long Island, Lewin Farm welcomes guests year-round for everything from blueberry and peach picking to corn mazes and cut-your-own Christmas trees. Late May through June. lewinfarm.com

Blessington Farms, Simonton, Texas

Known as "a slice of the country close to the city," (that city being Houston), Blessington Farms has a hydroponic approach to strawberry farming. Their soil-less stacking systems allow for more berry plants per square foot, and that means guests can pick standing up instead of stooped over. Through May. blessingtonfarms.com

Finke's Berry Farm, Carlton, Minnesota

Originally a vegetable and berry farm, Finke's is now — as the Beatles would say — strawberry fields forever. They're committed to sustainable practices and don't use pesticides on their plants. Through July. finkesberryfarm.com

Carandale Farm, Oregon, Wisconsin

Strawberry season comes late to Wisconsin: It generally starts in mid-June and stays just a few weeks. At Carandale Farm, guests get their own row and a box that holds between 10 and 15 pounds. They also offer plenty of tips for picking (twist, don't pull!), refrigerating and freezing. June. carandale.com

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