KINDERHOOK — Farms will be open for a fruit-filled Fourth of July.
Strawberries, blueberries, black raspberries and cherries are being offered at orchards around the region and with travel and other summer activities still restricted, many families will be heading out to pick their own fruit for the holiday.
The sweet cherries in the orchard are ripe for the picking at Boehm Farm on Route 26 in Climax, but this weekend will likely be the last of the season, said Henry Boehm.
Boehm is expecting that many families will come out to the farm, which is open from 10 am to 2 pm on Saturday and Sunday.
“I think they will clean ’em out,” Boehm said. “People like to get out and be in the orchard.”
The cherries were damaged by a bad frost on Mother’s Day, which wiped out about 60% of the cherry crop, Boehm said.
May Boehm, Henry’s wife, said their farm is one of the few family-owned farms left in Greene County.
“It is heartbreaking, you go for a ride and see all these empty silos, fields growing up, and no one is taking care of them,” May said.
May said the pick-your-own business is popular with the local community, with some people coming to get fruit for pies and canning and others coming to enjoy the scenery.
“Some people just want to walk through the orchards because they are so beautiful,” she said.
Samascott’s Orchards on Sunset Avenue in Kinderhook also has sweet and sour cherries available for pick-you-own this holiday weekend. The farm will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but the last entry for fruit picking will be at 4 p.m.
In addition to cherries, Samascott’s also has strawberries, blueberries and black raspberries for you-pick, spread out over 200 acres, said Jake Samascott.
Cherry picking is the most popular; strawberries less so, Samascott said.
“With cherries, you’re upright and in the shade,” he said, adding that picking strawberries in the field under a hot sun is a lot less desirable.
At Samascott’s Garden Market, on Chatham Street in Kinderhook, the ice-cream stand is selling sundaes made from the orchard’s fresh strawberries and blueberries, and vanilla soft serve. On Thursday, Alexandria Race, of Kinderhook, who just graduated from high school with the Class of 2020, and is working at the market for the summer, whipped up a colorful sundae with a patriotic theme.
Race said Samascott’s is a fun place to work and serve ice cream.
Many people come for the sour cherries, which are versatile for freezing, making pie, juice or brandy, Samascott said.
While many families remain hesitant to travel or visit public spaces, social distancing on a large farm is easy, even with kids.
“People by nature keep their distance and they are doing an extra good job distancing this year,” said Samascott.
Samascott’s Farm has set up handwashing stations and has a system in place to deal with the bottleneck of people coming in and out of the orchard for pick-your-own.
Visitors stay in their cars until receiving containers from farm employees, then drive out to the orchards, Samascott said.
Samascott is a fourth-generation farmer and one of six family members on the team at Samascott’s. The Fourth of July has always been one of the farm’s busiest weekends, as far back as he can remember.
Marian Ashouri and her family of five drove down from Watervliet to pick fruit at Samascott’s on Thursday.
Ashouri said she and her young siblings love the experience of picking their own fruit at the orchard.
With 200 acres of fruit fields and orchards, the work never stops, Samascott said. “None of our plants stop growing, so on the farm it’s the same whether it’s a holiday or not,” he said.
Other farms in the area are offering pick-your-own fruit, including Fix Brothers Fruit Farm in Hudson.
Fix Brothers has sweet cherries available, but not red sour cherries, which were damaged in a spring frost. Pickers are being asked to bring their own containers for safety to avoid coronavirus transmission.
The farm has a good crop of black sour cherries, which it expects to be ripe around the middle of July, according to the farm’s website.