If ever there was a fruit that symbolized springtime and new growth in North Carolina, it would have to be the strawberry. And with dozens of local growers and weeks of harvesting still left to go, there are plenty of opportunities to get out and enjoy picking and eating your own bucket or basket of these delicious berries.
Strawberries are one of Mother Nature’s wonder-foods. Besides being low in calories, sugars, carbs, sodium and fat and high in healthy fiber, the vitamins and minerals alone in a single serving are enough to increase blood flow to the brain and heart (manganese), regulate blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke (potassium), and help the body produce healthy red blood cells (vitamin B9, or folate). Strawberries are also one of the top natural foods in terms of their antioxidant capabilities; antioxidants called polyphenols help keep blood pressure and blood sugar in check, and even, according to some studies, help protect the body from developing cancer and tumors. Finally, few people realize that the quantity of Vitamin C in a serving of strawberries – a vitamin that serves, among other things, to boost your immune system – is actually more than the vitamin C in an orange!
North Carolina’s Strawberry Industry
North Carolina’s location and climate as a southern coastal state make it ideal for growing strawberries; NC is the fourth largest producer of strawberries in the nation. Cultivated on over 1,100 acres and in every one of the state’s counties, the vast majority of berries are grown on small or family farms, and most of those offer both u-pick and purchase-by-the-container options available at roadside stands and/or farmers’ markets. Due to Covid, many if not all farms are requesting that social distancing, masking and hand washing guidelines be adhered to, but if you call ahead and check before your visit, you should be ready to go once you get there.
A vast majority of North Carolina’s farmers use a very specific method of growing strawberries developed in the mid-1980s called plasticulture. Using this system, farmers cultivate small strawberry plants in the fall on raised beds under a layer of black plastic, which serves to warm the soil over the winter months and keep them protected from freezing as they go dormant. A tube, or drip line, is placed in the soil beneath the plastic, through which the plants are watered and fertilized. In the springtime, 15-25,000 pounds of North Carolina strawberries per acre ripen and are available to be picked, more or less, between April and June. Farmers re-plant each fall, starting the process all over again.
Here are a few local strawberry farms to get you started if you’re planning your own u-pick adventure.
6100 Mt. Herman Rd
Raleigh, NC 27617
Open Monday-Saturday 8am-6pm; strawberries, blackberries and pumpkins (in season); also, field trips, fall hayrides and corn maze.
Pope Farms / Pope’s Strawberries
1008 Bethlehem Road
Knightdale, NC 27545
Sunday & Monday closed, Tuesday-Thursday 3pm-6pm, Friday 2pm-7pm, Saturday 10am-7pm; strawberries, blueberries, broccoli, potatoes, tomatoes, squash and more; also available – honey, eggs.
Hunts Strawberry Farm
4505 Watkins Rd
Raleigh, NC 27616
Open Monday-Sunday 8am-8pm; pre-picked and pick-your-own strawberries; also available – honey, sour cream poundcake.
DJ’s Berry Patch
1223 Salem Church Road
Apex, NC 27523
Open Monday-Saturday 8am-7pm, Sunday 11am – 7pm; wholesale and retail berries; Sweet Charlie and Camarosa varieties; also available – tomatoes, corn, melons and more.
Porter Farms & Nursery Farm Market
Willow Springs Location –
3525 NC Highway 42
Willow Springs, NC 27592
Raleigh Location –
7615 Ten-Ten Road
*Porter Farms Raleigh Strawberry Stand – McCullers Crossroads Community, at the corner of Ten-Ten and Lake Wheeler Road
Open Monday-Saturday 8am-7pm, Sunday 12pm-6pm; also available – wide variety of seasonal produce.
For more u-pick farm options, check out www.ncstrawberry.com/farm-locator.
For tips on North Carolina Land Sales, NC Land and Farms for Sale in Central North Carolina, NC Farms and Land for Sale, or Financing for NC Land, please contact the professionals at Legacy Farms and Ranches of North Carolina.