There is no better way to assure you are getting the freshest fruits and veggies than by picking them yourself. Many Vermont farmers make it so easy it's hard to resist. The picking season starts in early summer with berry season. A berry outing is a great way to explore the countryside too, discovering villages like Putney in southern Vermont, whose bustling main street is filled with artisans, shops, a bakery, the amazing Basketville and a famous barbecue stand.
In the fall an apple picking outing sure beats raking leaves: You drive on Route 2 into the Lake Champlain Islands, turn left in South Hero and follow signs for Hackett's orchard.
With the rippling lake in the distance, you wander among trees that are weighed down with 45 varieties of apples. After picking a bagful, head back to the farmstand for a slice of delicious homebaked apple pie or fresh cider. Or stop at the nearby Apple Farm Market for homemade cider donuts and coffee.
All summer and fall, scenes like these are repeated around Vermont at dozens of pick-your-own farmstands. In southern Vermont at Harlow's or the Green Mountain Orchard in Putney, families come all season to pick fresh strawberries, then blueberries and raspberries, going home with fruit-stained fingers and buckets of ripe berries.
If you've never tasted sun-warmed fruit fresh off the bush, you've really missed something.
Pick your owns aren't all about fruits either. In September, at Chappelle's in Williamstown, it's a family event to go out in the fields and pluck potatoes off the ground. Or you can usually get a big bag of today's pick, for a great price, right near the scales.
After fall harvest, while at the pretty Cedar Circle Farm in East Thetford, Ellie's Farm Market in Riverton and at many other stands, visitors can pick out their own Halloween pumpkins. It's all "take-home," Vermont style.
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