Until I saw a friend’s Facebook post, it hadn’t dawned on me, but talk about a wonderful idea in the midst of pandemic crazy – take your kids strawberry picking!
As Charlotte slowly begins to open up from sheltering in place, we are all going to have hard decisions to make each step of the way, but this one seemed like a no-brainer to me, and what a welcome way to GET OUT!
Wise Acres Organic Farm in Indian Trail has been accepting guests by reservation only. By some stroke of luck, I reached out to them one night and they happened to have an 11 a.m. cancellation the following day. In a snap, I had the perfect window of time to get my three young sons out of the house – for some reason it takes me 10 times as long to them ready now that we are out of preschool shape – and we could be home by naptime.
Wise Acres explains on its website that they stay pretty booked up and you just have to check back regularly to see if spots open up. You can also follow them on Facebook and Instagram for up-to-date information. They’re planning to stay open for strawberry picking into early June and might add some other events throughout the summer where it’s easy to social distance, so keep at it, and maybe you’ll get lucky too.
(When I did a quick online search for other farms in the greater Charlotte area, the only other one I found that’s doing strawberry picking is Carrigan Farms in Mooresville. They don’t require reservations because of the size of their strawberry field, but they ask for guests to use common sense as far as not coming if experiencing COVID symptoms and keeping social distance once there.)
The great thing about going to Wise Acres was that social distancing came naturally, without a lot of fuss. They had multiple hand-washing stations set up for people to use both coming in and going out, and I saw someone wiping the areas down with Clorox wipes while I was there. But that was pretty much it. We didn’t have to wear facemasks, though the greeter at the farm did. I don’t mind the idea of wearing a face mask myself, but I’ve yet to try them on my 2-year-old twins! We just picked an area in the field where not many people were and got to work.
Picking strawberries was such a perfect activity for three littles too. I could even give my twins some autonomy – which is normally in short supply – to go and pick at their own pace. What a great way to work on some fine motor skills too! I was surprised at how prolific all three of my boys were, including my 4-year-old, and we filled our little baskets that they supplied in no time.
The other farm activities were closed because of COVID-19 – the wagon rides through the woods, the barrel train, playgrounds and zip lines, pizza concessions, etc. But all we needed was the strawberry picking and a chance to make some memories together to have a great time.
I’d never picked strawberries before, and neither had my mom. I talked her into coming with us, so she could help me corral the boys. (I’m blessed that she’s in great physical shape and not living in quarantine in a retirement community.) Not only did our boys love eating the strawberries they had picked – once we got them home and washed – my mom made them a strawberry pie. My sister took a picture of her showing them the pie a couple of days later, and I knew the second she snapped it, it would be one I’d always treasure.
Did I mention the only expense of this entire experience was the price of the strawberries? So yeah, we were cheap labor for Wise Acres Farm and loved every minute of it. There’s a very good chance we’ll be back for their pumpkin patch in the fall. And that’s saying something considering how little we know right now about what COVID-19 has in store for us in the fall.
Note: One thing I wished I’d played closer attention to on the Wise Acres website was a notice about road construction around the farm. I’m including it here to save you the 25 minutes I spent trying to get my navigator to reroute and asking for directions.
The NCDOT is currently building a driving circle at the intersection of Sardis Church Road and Unionville Indian Trail Road. The intersection will be completely closed until August. If you travel to the farm using the Monroe Bypass (toll road) or Idlewild/Seacrest Shortcut nothing has changed and you will get to the farm just fine. We recommend travelling on either one of these roads.
However, if you have to take Highway 74 or the Old Charlotte Highway you will need to adjust your route. We recommend turning on Rocky River Road to get to the farm even if it means driving a little past the farm and doubling back. The map apps haven’t updated the traffic change, so they are likely to lead you down a dead-end road without any detour signs.