Sweet, plump and picked with your own hands: in the warmer months, a number of berry farms open their orchards to visitors. Grab a punnet, or a bucket, and head to these farms just outside Melbourne for a kilo of berries straight from the vine.
Blue Hills Berries & Cherries, Silvan
The Chapman family has owned and operated Blue Hills Berries & Cherries since the late 1800s, and opened the farm to the public in the 1970s. Located in Silvan, on two separate farms overlooking mountain ranges, there’s a 20-acre berry orchard and a 10-acre cherry orchard with a bus that travels in between. The huge acreage means plenty of different berries: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, boysenberries, logan berries, cherries, and young berries. The farm is open seven days a week, and pickers are encouraged to read the fruit report on its website the night before coming to check fruit availability.
Berry picking costs $13 for adults, including 500 grams of berries (any more berries after that cost $15 per kilo) and children cost $6.50, including 250 grams of berries. For cherry picking, there is a $10 entry fee, which includes all-you-can-eat in the orchard and a picking demonstration. Cherries cost $10 per kilo.
27 Parker Road, Silvan
Sunnyridge Strawberry Farm, Main Ridge
From November to April, Sunnyridge Farm – the largest producer of strawberries in Australia – opens one of its four farms in picturesque Main Ridge on the Mornington Peninsula. The Gallace family established the farm in 1964 (originally as an apple farm, but due to the length of time it took for the fruit to appear, they turned to fast-growing strawberries). There’s a cafe to relax in after an afternoon in the field.
Adult entry is $9 and includes a 500 gram punnet of strawberries; entry for children costs $4, which includes a 250 gram punnet. A family pass (two adults, two children) can also be purchased for $22. Open seven days a week.
244 Shands Road, Main Ridge
Folly Farm Blueberries, Olinda
Belinda and Robert Rooth offer pickings by appointment only at their small property, so visitors have a more personal, intimate experience.
Located in Olinda in the Dandenong Ranges, the farm prides itself on its clean approach to growing. No chemicals or sprays are used on the blueberries, which thrive in the colder mountain climate. The original plants from 1982 are still growing today, in addition to heritage varieties that are no longer sold commercially. If you want to stay the night, Folly Farm has a bed-and-breakfast (you’ll be staying in a renovated English Shepherd’s hut, with the farm’s alpacas nearby).
The season usually runs from January through to February. The entry fee covers the first kilo of blueberries picked. Prices vary depending on the season. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to book a spot.
Folly Farm Rural Retreat
192 Falls Road, Olinda
The Bramble Farm, Langwarrin
Bramble Farm owners Mark and Di Benson don’t use big tractors or chemicals. The farm opened in 1985 with 60 blackberry vines and has grown to 10,000 vines of brambleberries and 28,000 canes of raspberries. The season runs from late November to April, with a summer and autumn crop of raspberries. Di makes jams, conserves, and marmalades from the berries, and Bramble Farm also produces its own honey, which is available at their store.
First opened in 1940 by George Riseborough, the Yarra Valley farm is now owned by third generation grandsons, Glen and Stephen. Customers are encouraged to pack a picnic and make a day of it. Staff demonstrate how to pick the freshest cherries, then pickers can enjoy an “all you can eat” experience of whatever they pluck from the tree. CherryHill Orchards’ homemade cherry ice-cream and cherry drink are also on offer.
The farm is open from December through January, seven days a week. Entry for adults is $12 and $6 for children, with discounts available if purchased online. The price includes all-you-can-eat cherries in the orchard. Cherries cost $12 per kilo to take home.
480 Queens Road, Wandin East