One of the things I miss about where we lived in California was the proximity of a pick your own farm, called Underwood Family Farms. Last year our daughter picked more strawberries than she could carry. I happened upon Panola Orchard & Gardens from a friend’s social media post. Her kids looked like they were having a blast hunting for the perfect strawberries so I immediately added it to our list of places to visit.
Over 300 acres, strawberries are not the only star at Panola Orchard. While it is still a bit early, you can pick blueberries, blackberries and peaches shortly after Memorial Day at the end of May. Right now there are a few different varieties of strawberries ripe and ready for picking. In fact, we couldn’t walk more than a few inches without spotting gorgeous red berries, some the size of our 5 year old’s hand!
We picked up our reusable bucket inside the store. We rode the tractor out to the field which was a nice change from our old farm where we had a long trek in the heat. It was a beautiful day and with what looked like miles of strawberries no one felt crowded on their quest for the ultimate berry. Once you get your fill the staff will weigh them up. At $2.99 a pound I felt like it was worth it not only for the experience but the guarantee all our berries would be perfect. Unlike the grocery store where you end up with at least one yucky strawberry per basket.
We opted to walk back because it was a picture perfect day. We particularly liked watching the longhorns graze across the street. Once in a while one would look up at us expectantly while chewing. As if he or she knew we had something special. Sometimes the Orchard will have pre-picked berries for sale in addition to jams and other jarred treats. They offer homemade bath and body products plus some toys and a few other gift items. If you are looking for souvenirs, this is a good spot. If you don’t fill up on berries there is a little cafe inside serving burgers and homemade strawberry lemonade. They also sell homemade strawberry ice cream!
We can’t wait to come back for the blueberries. A fellow berry picker said they are huge, like the size of your thumb. Panola Orchard also has thorn free blackberry bushes that are kid friendly although the owner said the berries from the thorny bushes taste sweeter. The blackberries are touted as some huge Texas sized fruit. We think this a great destination for kids and adults alike. Staff was friendly and helpful. You can even reuse your bucket on your next trip and they give you $1 off. It’s literally a sweet deal.