There’s no better sense of achievement than when you cook up a delicious meal or dessert with fruit or vegetables that you’ve either grown yourself or picked with your own two hands.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a love/hate relationship with your backyard vegie patch. Between fighting bugs/rats/birds and planting things at the specific time in which they have to be planted I’m never on the winning team. Every now and then you might end up with a deformed strawberry, but was it all really worth it?
The good news is that Victoria’s soil is fertile, and there are plenty of places within driving distance of the city where you can pick your own fruit. So put the garden trowel and gloves away, get in your car and head to these places to get fruit that looks and tastes amazing.
Blue Hills Berries & Cherries
Just a quick drive into the Dandenongs will find you at Blue Hills Berries & Cherries. The Chapman family have farmed in Silvan since 1894, and you can see and taste that experience in every berry (and cherry). Choose from seasonally available blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries, cherries, loganberries, raspberries, strawberries and youngberries.
Cherryhill Orchards has been pumping out the cherry goodness since 1940. You can head to the orchard in beautiful Wandin or if you’re feeling a bit lazy feel free to jump on their website and order a box of big, beautiful cherries sent straight to your door.
Red Hill Cherry Farm
A trip down to Red Hill Cherry Farm will not only have you leaving with bulk cherries, you’ll also pick yourself up some cherry ice cream, cordial or even a cherry cider just for good measure.
Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm
Keen to go strawberry picking near Melbourne? Well, Sunny Ridge is certainly the place for that. Their “U-Pick” fields are open until 4:30pm daily and there are plenty of other strawberry delicacies to pick up while you’re there. Jams, freeze dried strawberries and cider are all available in the shop.
Now is the perfect time to head out to Jay Berries, as everything except raspberries are currently in season. Along with your usual berries, Jay Berries has a selection of seasonal vegetables that you can also pick yourself—spinach, beetroot, buk choy and many more are available.
Raspberries are generally very expensive at the supermarket, so it might be better to pick them yourself. Kinglake Raspberries have raspberries, plenty of them. Pick your own on this 25 hectare farm and also take home a selection of jams, berry sauces and cordials for the pantry.
If the rest of the places didn’t have the fruit you desire, Rayner’s Orchards certainly will. There are more than 450 varieties of fruit available at the orchard, including peaches, nectarines and plums (also pluots????). You can jump on board an orchard tour which run year-round or freshen up your pruning skills with a pruning masterclass.
Emily Hill Farm
Emily Hill Farm is the destination for blueberry fiends. Blueberry season is open from mid-December and continues into February. They’ve also got a further selection of organic fruit on hand like limes, lemons, grapefruit as well as garlic and rhubarb.
Pennyroyal Raspberry Farm
Pennyroyal has been around since 1985 and is the oldest working berry farm in south-west Victoria. A short drive off the Great Ocean Road and close to Brae, Pennyroyal Raspberry Farm can sort all your raspberry needs as well as offer up some medal-winning cider and gin made from berries picked straight from the farm.
Travel just 40 minutes west of Melbourne and you’ll find yourself at Paynes Orchards, the go-to orchard in the west for cherries, sour cherries, berries, apricots, peaches, nectarines and apples. There is also fresh produce available in the shed for those special home cooked meals.
Set in the beautiful Yarra Valley, Seville Farm’s cherry orchard is surrounded by some of the best views you’ll find outside of Melbourne. With seven varieties of cherry on offer, there’s no shortage for even the pickiest fruit eater.
The Bramble Farm
This is one for the brambleberry fan. The Bramble Farm has more than 10,000 brambleberry vines, to go with more than 28,0000 canes of raspberries. The farm is open seven days a week from 9—5pm, and if you can’t make it down there you’ll find them at various farmers markets around the city.
If you’re keen on travelling a bit further…
Sunny Creek Organic Berry Farm
Sunny Creek has a selection of different coloured raspberries (red, yellow, purple and black), strawberries, blackberries, boysenberries and loganberries on offer, and it’s all less than two hours from Melbourne. You’ll definitely need to leave room in your car for the fruit, as well as jams, preserves and fresh produce.
Herbert Hill Berry Farm
If you’re up for a trip down to South Gippsland, then a stop at Herbert Hill Berry Farm should definitely be on your itinerary. Open all day Saturday and Sunday it’s just $8 per kilo of fruit, but you’ve got to bring your own container!
High Grove Chestnut & Berry Farm
No visit to the high country is complete without stopping by High Grove Chestnut & Berry Farm. The farm has been around almost a decade and has every berry you could ever want, from raspberries and blueberries to the lesser known waldo berries and brambleberries. You can also pick up some fresh chestnuts while you’re there, or visit the kiosk after a hard day’s picking your own fruit.
This is just a small snapshot of the great pick-your-own orchards around Victoria. Check out this site for a comprehensive look at all of the growers that you can uncover.
Need some ice cream after a hard day picking berries? Here are Melbourne’s best places for ice cream lovers.
Image credit: Michelle Jarni