Just a 90-minute drive from DC, a little bit past the Target and Leesburg Outlets, you will find Great Country Farms, a 200-acre farm that sits at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Bluemont, VA. Marcus and I made the drive so we could pick peaches and blackberries.
Great Country is a working farm with a lot going on. Summer weekends are crammed with picking festivals, live music, burgers and hot dogs at the Roosteraunt stand, and fresh-squeezed lemonade.
We paid our ten bucks admission (per person - ouch!) and hopped on the tractor-pulled trailer to get to the peach tree orchard. I should note that while we paid $10 bucks admission, the peaches were only $1.69 a pound, a bargain by any standard.
As we made our way to the orchard, we passed myriad activities the farmers have developed to attract families and children. There was a mini-golf course, a laser tag field, and a small petting zoo. The mini-golf course in particular seemed out of place, a reminder that farmers have to do a lot more than till fields to make the economics of farming, work.
Aaaahhh, we finally arrived at the peach orchard. I almost felt relaxed and happy until I realized how hot it was and the bees, THE BEES were everywhere. With a great sense of urgency, we picked ten pounds of peaches, which took us about 15 minutes.
Then we were brought back to the farm with one more thing to do before we sought refuge in our air conditioned car. We had to pick some blackberries.
It was right in the middle of the blackberry field that I had an amazing epiphany: blackberries rival strawberries as the berry supreme leader. These dark plumpers were like a juice machine in my mouth. We ate about ten while we were picking. Shhhh....
Stay tuned, I have ten pounds of peaches on my counter, so there's a peach recipe or two coming your way.