I used to think that u-pick anything was a big scam, why would I delight in manual labor if I could simply buy something off a shelf? But that was when I was working on a farm, now I’m raising a kid in the city and am 100% certain my toddler has no idea that food is grown in the ground and doesn’t simply magically appear in the fridge. Also, the thought of her cherub like features lighting up in excitement over her favorite fruit on a plant and then grasping it with her tiny, chubby hands was too cute to not play out in real life.
I used the very scientific method of searching my friend’s Instagram feeds to pick a strawberry field and cross referencing those fields with google maps to find the farm that was closest. Shlagel Farms it was, there was ice-cream, chickens, a giant strawberry painting for family photos, and of course u-pick strawberries.
Half way through our hour long drive to the field my daughter pooped, of course she did. And I discovered the first con of the farm, porta-potties. I should have stopped at a gas station to change her diaper, there were plenty of good ones along the way; WaWa and Royal Farms (both set the bathroom bar way high for every other highway stop). In my mind I assumed any u pick farm targeting city folk would have running water and a bathroom, but I was wrong. The potties were ripening in the mid-day sun so we took care of the situation on the grass (so much closer to nature already!).
Now that the poopy was taken care of we grabbed our containers and meandered out to the spot in the field which was open for public picking. It was surprisingly crowded for a weekday and the more serious fruit hunters walked by our spot murmuring about finding a more verdant area. I had a toddler, I had an agenda- pick as much fruit as possible before she losses interest. And I knew that the search for the most prolific spot in the field would simply run up the tab on her patience.
It didn’t matter anyway, Ooey was surprisingly content. She marveled at the fruit and then took one tiny bite and put it in our green basket. We had an entire pint of half nibbled berries to show for our efforts. I sat in the field, and with some guilt ate all the half eaten berries and started over again. It took all of forty five minutes for her to get bored for real. We paid for our fruit, and set out to play on the park.
There’s no ice cream on the weekdays, but the playground more than makes up for it. Shaded with swings, a slide, sandpit and other kids- we spent more time here than actually in the fields. I’d had low expectations for my first picking expedition with my daughter and we had a better time than I thought. I may actually go again, before the season ends in May.
12850 Shlagel Rd
Waldorf MD 20601
7 days a week 8am-6pm
- pack a lunch or snacks
- sunscreen and hats are a must
- go to the bathroom before you get there!
- call before you go to check on picking conditions (301-645-4554) or check their Facebook
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