Pietree Orchard provides an idyllic opportunity to pick your own fruit and berries in a lovely location, together as a family. Truly one of the best “U-Pick” farms I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. Here’s what we loved about it, and our best tips for planning your own picking adventure!
Located at 803 Waterford Road in Sweden, Pietree Orchard is just enough off the beaten path to make it feel quiet, quaint, and peaceful, but not so far that it wouldn’t be an easy (and worthwhile!) excursion from somewhere like Auburn or even Conway, NH.
Do give a call before you get in your car, to verify their hours, and what’s available for picking. You can reach the farmstand at 207-647-9419, starting at 9am.
There are pretty comprehensive directions available on the Pietree Orchard website, and we’ve found GPS to be an available and accurate guide in getting us there.
What to bring
Also before you get in the car, be sure to bring the sunscreen! If you’re picking berries, you’ll be in full sun unless it’s a cloudy day. The picking areas are all easily accessed from the ample parking lot, so though I’d also say to bring comfy shoes, you won’t be trekking far to the fields.
We brought our own baskets because they’re cute and fun to pick into. The farmstand has a good supply of containers for picking though, so they’re definitely not necessary.
We brought water bottles and were glad to have them, but there’s also a water cooler at the field, so you won’t be stuck walking back to the farmstand if you haven’t brought a drink and find yourself thirsty in the middle of the berry patch. The farmstand also has a good fleet of wagons that they let you use, which are great for hauling around your heaping flats of berries, or you know – your pooped kids. They’re super handy!
We visited right at the end of strawberry season, and the kind folks at the farmstand prepared us for sparse picking. We were pleasantly surprised with plentiful, perfect berries though, and tidy rows that easily accommodated the width of a wagon.
The rows were also wide enough to stage an impromptu happy dance from Izzy. She’s used to hunting for elusive (and tiny!) wild strawberries at our house, and could hardly fathom the bounty before her. She was one happy, happy girl!
I’d inquired about prices before we arrived (they’re not published on the website, and my understanding is that they vary from year to year.) For strawberries, they were about 50 cents per pound cheaper than a couple of other “u-pick” farms in our area, and I was really pleased to be able to stock up for a week’s worth of hearty snacking, at a very reasonable price.
By the time we actually made it back to the farm stand to have our berries weighed, the happy munchkin in the photo above had pretty well eaten his weight in berries. I mean, not really – but you can tell from that box…we picked and he munched.
Because of this, I begged, pleaded, with the sweet soul at the register to add at least an extra pound to the number that showed on the scale, when I set down our haul. I pointed out the shamelessly red-splotched shirt and chin of my little berry-eater, as proof of our transgression. I’d treasured our experience from start to finish and did not at all want to take advantage of the good work these folks are doing.
She wouldn’t budge: “Oh, good on him!” she said, “That’s all part of the fun, and we’re just so glad you had a wonderful time!” She wouldn’t hear of adding a single ounce to my purchase, and gently rang me up for the berries that had made it to the register.
This was just one of many interactions with the cheerful and kind folks that staff this place, from the lovely register attendant, to a woman who drove up on a tractor and took time with my tractor-smitten two-year-old, to the pizza chef. Everyone seemed happy to be working there, and happy that we were there.
They’ve thought of everything
Another thing that impressed me about our visit, was the care and thought put into the practical details of the customer experience, from start to finish. They seem to have thought of everything.
Right out at the end of the strawberry field, a convenient tent was set up with a big cooler of ice water (thank-you-Jesus!), a plentiful stack of cups, and extra flats and berry boxes in case you found yourself picking more than you’d expected. Picking is addictive, after all.
The shade and that blessed ice water were such a treat after a hot car ride, and then a hot hour of picking berries in full sunshine! It was also nice to be able to wash our hands in the little hand-washing station behind the tent – complete with well-stocked soap and paper towels, and a recently-emptied trash bin. Tidy. Clean. Nice. (They also have a large, clean bathroom back at the farm stand, if you need one.)
When we’d first arrived, a family was having a snack at one end of the picnic table, and that felt like exactly the kind of thing the folks who run this place have in mind. There’s very much a “mi casa es su casa” vibe here, and it all adds up to feeling more like a treasured weekend guest than a mere paying customer.
By the time we’d paid for our berries and loaded them in the car, we realized our own tummies were getting a bit rumbly as well. Well, probably not Duncan’s because…berries, yo.
While at the register, I’d been drawn in by the mouthwatering list of pizza toppings on a chalkboard on the wall, and asked if by any chance they had a gluten free crust option. Of course they did. By now I should have expected they’d have that covered.
So we ordered and made our way out to the picnic table area, while our pizza was made and cooked in a giant stone oven built onto one end of the farm stand. If you peek into the screened outdoor kitchen, you can see the long wooden pizza peels hanging on the wall, and the chef carefully tending the oven. This was pretty fascinating to our young 4 year old cooking enthusiast!
The pizza itself was fantastic. You know me – I’m a huge advocate of packing lunches and snacks to make family activities more affordable. But this is one place I’m planning to make an exception for. I’ll gladly plan an extra $13 into the activity budget, so we can enjoy a woodfired pizza made with fresh local produce, next time we come.
Speaking of next time – those are hard little green apple drops, the kids are so fascinated with under that tree. We wandered around the orchard after we’d finished our pizza, happy to stroll a bit, and not quite ready to end our visit and pile back in the car.
I’m looking forward to bringing the family back several times this fall for apple picking – not just because we love apples, although we do. We actually get quite a lot of apples from a couple of trees in our own yard. But we’re also planning to add more trees to our home orchard over time, and this is a wonderful place to try a wide selection of apple varieties – many of them heritage cultivars. I’m excited to taste my way through Pietree Orchard’s collection, and make some decisions about which trees to order for our own yard.
Check out the list of apples varieties currently in their orchard here on the website. It’s an impressive collection, isn’t it?
I’ll certainly add an update to this post once we’ve visited the Orchard for some apple picking. In the meantime, how about you? Have you been to PieTree Orchard? Please feel free to share any tips for new visitors, and let us know what apple varieties you especially love!