365 Things to Do in Memphis #165: Get it Homegrown at Jones Orchard
Some people (like me) are super picky about their produce. For those times when a grocery store just isn’t good enough, there’s the Pick Your Own orchard at Jones Orchard in Millington, Tenn.
The orchard, which was founded in 1940, lets you grab a basket and head out into their groves in search of perfect blackberries, peaches, strawberries, blueberries and more.
When I got to Jones Orchard, I parked at their roadside farmers market / restaurant / headquarters and picked up a bucket for blackberries and a basket for peaches. The friendly kid working the counter gave me a long and convoluted series of directions to the patches that basically ammounted to “over there” and sent me on my way.
After a little aimless driving, I found the blackberry patch. All of the bushes were fruiting, but only about a third of the berries seemed ripe. (Pro tip: If they’re ripe, they detach from the vine easily with a gentile tug.) In about 20 minutes, I had filled my bucket up with enough berries to fit in 10 of the grocery store blackberry containers.
I went for peaches next, but it took me a few minutes to figure out exactly which grove of trees the kid back at the shop had been talking about. Once I found the right trees, though, picking peaches was easy. I’m short, but there were plenty of fuzzy, ripe peaches dangling within reach.
When I got back to headquarters, my fruit was weighed and put into bags – $13 for about two pounds of blackberries and 20-ish peaches. I also picked up a few other vegetables – tomatoes, squash and potatoes – that were grown on nearby farms.
Before you head out to pick your own fruit, there are a few things you need to know. First, Jones Orchard isn’t a grocery store, it’s a farm. You’re going to have to contend with nature. There will be bugs and high grass and sunshine. Wear real shoes and slather on some sunscreen and you’ll be just fine. Also, blackberry bushes have thorns, so be careful, especially if you’re reaching for a super ripe berry in the middle of the bush.
Jones Orchard is open daily from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. If you can’t make it out to Millington to pick your own, you can find fresh local produce at any of the Mid-South and Memphis area farmers markets.