Editor's Note: Go Ask Mom usually features places to take kids every Friday, but we're switching it up so you can make plans ASAP to get to this strawberry farm or another one. It's time to pick!
This week marks what's likely to be the peak of strawberry season.
Berry plants across the region are swelling with the sweet fruit, ripened under the warm sun. And farmers would love to see those fields teaming with pickers, taking home those juicy berries before the next batch grow big and red.
Among the many places to pick-your-own basket of strawberries around here is Porter Farms & Nursery with locations in Willow Spring and south Raleigh. There, Ashley and Crissy Porter, parents of three kids, grow fresh produce, serve up homemade ice cream and offer a fun place for families to spend some quality time.
"It's a really good lesson for parents to take the time to teach their kids that food comes from the farm," Crissy Porter tells me. Crissy loves seeing the fields filled with little ones and their adults, finding the perfect berries to take home.
The Porters have pick-your-own fields and farm stands at 3525 N.C. Highway 42 in Willow Spring and 7615 Ten-Ten Rd. in Raleigh. I stopped by the Willow Spring location on Monday where moms, kids and others scattered across the fields to pick strawberries.
The Willow Spring location feature a large farm stand, which will be bursting with fresh produce pretty soon. There's also a homemade ice cream shop where Charity Morris, another local mom, makes about 600 gallons of ice cream a week. The shop features about 18 flavors, including strawberry, made with Porter's own fruit, and chocolate thunder, which includes homemade brownie pieces, caramel and pecans (and are both absolutely amazing).
During strawberry season, you also can pick up your own strawberry shortcake for $5. It includes homemade pound cake, homemade vanilla ice cream and strawberries picked from the fields steps away.
You'll find some picnic tables next to the shop so you can bring a picnic lunch or dinner. There's also a small playground with swings, a large sand box and a wooden train that kids can play in.
Of course, the main focus are the strawberry fields, which feature the Camarosa, Chandler and Sweet Charlie varieties. It's been a good year for the Porters and most other strawberry farmers. The season came early - Crissy tells me her kids were eating out of the fields in March.
"The crop is beautiful," she said. "It's probably the best crop we've ever had. People need to get out and experience this at its best. The time is now."
Porter Farms is open daily. The farm's website and Facebook page have the latest information on hours, the strawberry crop and other produce for sale. (The Raleigh location does not have a full-service ice cream shop, but you can get ice cream cups to take home).