UPDATE 6/6/15: Strawberry picking for the 2015 season started on 6/6/15 at their 529 Woodland Street location! Current hours are daily from 9am-5pm. This year strawberries are $2.25/lb. Be sure to check their Facebook page for updates about picking times and crop availability.
It has officially begun. It is time to head out to your favorite Pick-Your-Own (PYO) venue and gather the first crop of the season, strawberries. Yum!
Last week we got you ready for the season’s start by posting a list of our previous PYO destinations and this week I decided to try to expand our list even further by visiting a new place, Dondero Orchards, located in South Glastonbury, CT.
Now, Dondero Orchards is by no means a new PYO destination in our state. Their main location at 529 Woodland Street (where we visited) is 103 years old!
This location is open everyday from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm. Strawberries are currently available for PYO and in a few weeks several other fruit varieties will be available. See below for a picture of their full calendar.
As we entered the property, we drove up a short driveway and parked right in front of the farm stand.
We headed inside to get the scoop on strawberry picking. Good news was that we didn’t have to go far to reach the strawberry fields. We could grab a box from the bin at the front of the store and then just walk past the nearby greenhouse to reach our picking destination.
While we were inside I took a look at all the delicious food, jams, jellies, pickles and desserts they had for sale. I wanted to buy everything, of course, but needed to stay focused on our task at hand, strawberries.
We grabbed a few boxes from the front and began to head towards the fields.
It was a short walk to the other side of the greenhouse and then just a little further until we found the orange cones that marked the strawberry picking area. The operation was very laid-back and low-key. We just headed out there, filled our bins, and headed back to pay. I really like laid-back and low-key when I have a toddler and a few preschoolers chasing after me.
Oh and Sweetheart wore what is now our official strawberry picking outfit for a two-year-old (or almost two-year-old). Sparkles wore the same cute shirt to Scott’s Yankee Farmer the previous year. Of course I had to do a side-by-side comparison. Do they look like sisters?
The kids loved picking strawberries and the powerhouse picker in our group ended up being the youngest in the bunch, Sweetheart. I think she filled a whole box by herself. Of course I had to keep reminding her that we needed to pick the really red strawberries, but she was laser-focused on the task at hand.
After we were done with picking, it was a quick walk back to the farm stand to pay for our haul. We basically picked one full box of strawberries which ended up being about 6 pounds worth. At $2 a pound pricing, it was certainly reasonable. I also purchased a coffee and a few of their cider donuts while I was there (I just couldn’t resist) and I took a look around at the other items available for sale.
They had jams, jellies, fresh eggs, pickles, drinks, ice cream, desserts and much more.
It was also nice that there was an indoor restroom located in the farm stand.
Outside the farm stand was a play area for the kids and a bunch of picnic tables. I was told that the tables are mostly used for the farm to table dinners held every Wednesday night during the summer. The dinners are reasonably priced at $29 per person and it is a family friendly event. The first one of the season will be June 25th and reservations are a must.
I had brought the kids lunch and we had planned to take them to a nearby playground for some playtime and eating. But they were really enjoying the play area at the orchard, so we just decided to stay.
I think we will have many future PYO adventures at Dondero Orchards. The strawberry picking was easy and stress-free plus the kids were happy to hang around and play with the toys onsite while my husband and I enjoyed a delicious coffee and cider donut. I’m sure the atmosphere is a bit more hustle and bustle on the weekends, but we certainly enjoyed our weekday trip.
Phone Number: (860) 659-0294
Follow them on Facebook!
Currently the hours are 9:00 am – 4:00 pm, but they will move towards 8:00 am – 7:00 pm as the summer progresses
- FREE to visit
- FREE to park
- $2/lb for PYO strawberries
- $1.50 for coffee
- 50 cents for donuts
- Variety of pricing on additional food available at the farm stand
- Stroller Friendly: YES. You could easily bring a jogging stroller out to the fields. With the non-walkers, though, it can also be great to “wear” your baby using a Baby Bjorn or similar product.
- Coffee Mug Friendly: YES. Plus coffee is available for sale at the farm stand.
- Baby Changing Station: NO.
- Restrooms: YES. A restroom is located in the farm stand building.
- Parking: FREE parking is available in front of the farm stand building.
- Food for Sale: YES. A variety of food is for sale at the farm stand. Coffee, donuts, drinks, and ice cream could be purchased for enjoyment at the picnic tables outside. A variety of other food products area available to purchase and take home.
- Outside Food Allowed: YES.
- Cash Required: NO. Visa and Mastercard are accepted.
- Dress Code: NO. But dress for being outside, of course. My kids also are happiest when they wear their rain boots for our PYO adventures.
- Evening/Weekend Hours: YES.
Tips & Things to Bring:
- Water for hot days. You definitely work up a thirst picking fruit.
- Suntan lotion and hats as you will be in the sun.
- A baby carrier for non-walkers.
- A jogging stroller to get you from the car to the fields if you have a toddler who may not be able to make the whole walk.
- Cash or credit card (Visa or Mastercard) to pay for your purchase.
- Boots if it has been raining, as the fields could be muddy.
- Buckets if you find they are easier for your kids to carry (though trays and containers are available at the stand.)
- Lunch and enjoy it at the picnic tables outside the farm stand.
- The farm is not organic, but they did say that they do not spray the plants with any pesticides once fruit begins to grow.
- The farm has reasonably priced farm to table dinners every Wednesday night during the summer. They cost $29 per person and reservations are required.
- On the weekends, Dondero Orchards has a second location off of Hebron Avenue in Glastonbury that is open for PYO.
- As with any PYO outing, call the farm before you go. Crop availability changes often and so do the hours of operation for many of the farms. Make sure you call and get the latest details before you head out.
- The Independent Day School – Located on a rural campus in Middlefield, CT this private pre-school, elementary and middle school serves families from over 20 communities.
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