Pick Your Own Fun
This family found a prizewinning plan while looking for a different way to farm.
My husband, Steve, and I are the proud owners of College Run Farms, a 40-acre pickyour-own fruit and vegetable farm in Surry, Virginia. We have two children, 10-year-old Jake and 7-year-old Henry, who are big helpers on the farm.
The farm began in 1999 after Farmer Steve graduated from college with a degree in agriculture and applied economics. Steve is the sixth generation to farm in his family and was interested in trying something besides the small grains and row crops his family traditionally grows. The farm is open six months of the year, from late April through Oct. 31. We grow strawberries, blueberries, pumpkins and other seasonal crops, including sweet corn, watermelons and butter beans. As a pick-your-own farm, we allow customers to enter our fields and harvest their own produce. Our picking schedule begins around late April when strawberries are ripe. Summer and blueberry season come next— from June through early August. Customers pick sweet corn from the field in late June and July. We end our year with a pick-your-own pumpkin patch and corn maze in the fall.
Fresh, delicious homemade ice cream is another popular item at our farm. We make it seasonally on-site using our own fruit: strawberry in the spring and blueberry in the summer. The favorite flavor this time of year is pumpkin; people often visit just to get a cone or bowl. My sister Rebecca Cabell is our official ice cream maker, but Farmer Steve helps with ice cream production during busy times.
Steve is also a partner in his family’s nearby Beechland Farms, where we live and where he grows peanuts, cotton, soybeans and corn. He works at Beechland Farms full time, so he keeps busy juggling all his responsibilities.
We are incredibly fortunate to have so many wonderful family members help us with all the balls we have in the air at the same time. My mom and stepdad, Catherine and Mack Walls, help wait on customers, baby-sit the boys, and make fudge and pumpkin butter—their specialty. The other grandparents—my stepmom, Sassy Renney, and
Steve’s parents, Joanie and Mac Berryman—also help us with the kids or other tasks on super-busy days. And we have a wonderful staff at College Run helping us each season.