U-Pick Raspberries at Grace Farm Studios: What to Expect
Three Seasons on Three Acres
Picking raspberries at GraceFarmStudios is more like picking berries in a botanical garden than at a conventional raspberry farm. We grow berries the way that they are grown in the UK, in high tunnels that are designed and manufactured in the UK (Haygrove). We are one of the only raspberry farms in the state of Illinois to have a conservation plan with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA), to include high tunnels. We installed our first Haygrove high tunnels (the “super solo” which we cut in two) in 2009 and added a custom block of three Haygrove tunnels in 2013. The tunnels allow us to consistently grow high quality raspberries, using organic farming practices, regardless of weather conditions and with minimal impact on the environment. They also permit picking during mild to moderate rains (if no lightening); protect the canes and fruit during moderate to high winds (if not tornadic); and naturally exclude certain damaging pests (birds, deer, Japanese beetles) without harming bees and other beneficial insects.
In addition to the high tunnel growing environment, we have invested in a developing “edible landscape” of native plants that provide great tasting, nutritious fruit. As part of our commitment to conservation, we have planted native grasses, forbs, shrubs and trees that have replicated an authentic northern Illinois savanna. You will see and hear a plethora of native and migratory birds and perhaps catch a glimpse of small wildlife who make their home here at GFS.
SAFETY AND BIOSECURITY are PRIORITIES. This is a working farm on three acres, so. . .
- You are picking raspberries and moving about the property at your own risk, so watch your step. The ground is NOT ALWAYS AS EVEN AS IT APPEARS. Roots, rocks, metal structures, holes, rises and dips in the terrain may be obscured by greenery.
- Expect bees and insects. We don’t use synthetic pesticides. If you are allergic to bee/hornet stings or concerned about mosquitos, take appropriate precautions. We would be happy to pick for you while you wait.
- Our sheep and goats are NOT A PETTING ZOO. We allow kids to feed them only from outside the pen and with adult supervision.
- Small children must be within your reach at all times. NO RUNNING, NO CLIMBING ON FARM MACHINERY, HIGH TUNNELS, AND FENCES (no matter how old you are).
- To avoid an unwelcome exchange of parasites and micro-organisms, PLEASE DO NOT BRING YOUR PETS TO THE FARM.
- The U-shaped, gravel driveway has a maximum parking capacity of about 10 cars (and occasionally our neighbor’s horse, upper left). To avoid congestion, we may ask you to park in designated areas.
- Most of the property is wheelchair accessible, but it is our pleasure to provide assistance.
- SANITATION: There is a porta-potty and handwashing sink with paper towels and a waste-basket immediately adjacent to the parking area. Disinfectant, hand sanitizer and wet wipes are also available. Please notify us if you find any sanitation related issues in need of attention.
- HEAT: please use our air-conditioned studio as a cooling center. It is perfectly okay to go in there and sit a spell to cool off if you need to. COLD BOTTLED water is available in an emergency free of charge to help cool down a person who is suffering from heat related symptoms. We accept donations to help keep our bottled water supply plentiful.
Most of our raspberries are grown and trellised inside specially-designed, ventilated high tunnels (upper right, lower right).
Our berries are sold by a standard volume, not weight. We provide recyclable, vented clam-shell containers for your use (sorry, but we cannot accommodate other picking containers, nor can we permit coolers in the fields).