My daughter’s 1st grade class is learning about plants and how they impact our food supply. The kids are planting and observing different types of plants, looking at how we use plants as food in our meals, and even learning to prepare a few things using plants. We have a vegetable garden and fruit trees at home, and we are regulars at the Farmers’ Market where we get freshly picked produce, but there’s nothing like going to a farm to pick apples and berries yourself. Late summer and early fall are the ideal time to take a trip to a you-pick farm to pick apples and other fruits with your little ones and it provides a fun opportunity to show your kids where their food comes from. Call ahead to make sure there is a good supply of fruit for picking as the season depends on Mother Nature.

Apple Hill
Located in the heart of Gold Country, Apple Hill is home to more than 50 farms offering a variety of activities throughout the year, with fun things to do for kids of every age, including hay and corn mazes, pumpkin patches, pony rides, craft stands, a train ride, plus a whole lot more. Fall is by far the busiest time of the year in Apple Hill, when just about every one of the farms are open … with ripening apples, baking pies, and fun for the whole family. Visit the website for a complete list but here are a few of the farms that offer you-pick opportunities and special activities for kids.

Abel’s Apple Acres
Opens Labor Day weekend
Amazing maze, horse and pony rides and more

Apple Ridge Farms
Opens August 28
Face painting, hay maze, pumpkin patch, craft booths, nature trails, photo ops

High Hill Ranch
Hay Rides, Face Painting, Fishing Pond, Pony Rides

Rainbow Orchards
Opens Labor Day weekend
Hay Bale Hop-a-Crooked-Mile, Pumpkins, Fresh Cider Mill, Grassy Orchard Play Area

Sloan Winters Mountain Orchard & Garden
Opens August 31
Take a tractor ride on our farm and pick your favorite produce.

Other farms to add to your list include:

Amber Oaks Raspberries
2770 Shanley Rd.
Auburn, CA 95603
A “pick your own” farm offering seasonal fresh berries, chestnuts, mandarins, kiwi, tomatoes, rhubarb, and many other varieties of seasonal produce. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, June through November by appointment.

Apple-A-Day Ratzlaff Ranch
13128 Occidental Rd.
Sebastopol, CA 95472
This family-run business grows Gravenstein, golden delicious, and Rome apples, and makes a delicious organic apple juice. U-pick is offered September and October, closed on Thursdays and Saturdays.

Note, there are many other you-pick opportunities along the Farm Trails in Sonoma County.

Chileno Valley Ranch
5105 Chileno Valley Rd.
Petaluma, CA 94952
Home to Mike and Sally Gale, Chileno Valley Ranch is primarily a grass-fed beef and lamb ranch that also offers you-pick organic apples with varieties such as Orin, Pinova, Candy Crisp, and Jonagold. All the apple varieties are blind taste test winners and can be purchased from the ranch during you-pick days, which continue every Sunday until there are no apples, which is usually October.

Gabriel Farm

3175 Sullivan Rd.
Sebastopol, CA 95472
Saturdays and Sundays August-October (Call the farm to confirm times)
This 14-acre organic farm features 8 varieties of Asian Pears, multiple varieties of apples, Fuyu persimmons, lavender, plums and many sorts of berries. September and August are prime time for apples, Asian pears, raspberries, tomatoes, pumpkins and winter squash. September and October are ideal for picking organic apples and other fruits such as pears, berries and tomatoes. Because of the high demand for the you-pick experience, and the limited size of their orchard, it is reserved for farm CSA members. The price of membership is a case of juice: for $40 you get 6 half-gallons of shelf-stable juice and the ability to pick and purchase whatever is in season.

Swanton Berry Farm
Farm Stand and U-Pick
25 Swanton Rd.
Davenport, CA 95017
Open daily 8 am-7 pm
Coastways Ranch U-Pick
640 Highway 1
Pescadero, CA 94060
Saturdays and Sundays 10 am-5 pm
The organic strawberry you-pick is open, and strawberries are $5/lb (10 or more lbs, is $4.50/lb). Boxes for picking are provided. The weather out on the coast is quite variable so bring layers and appropriate farm shoes.

We’ve hardly touched the surface — too many you-pick opportunities to include. However, if you know of one that is particularly family-friendly, please let us know!