Each July, just as the month is drawing to a close, my husband and I get the itch to pick cherries. And it seems each year that rain graces our cherry picking adventure. We leave early in the morning to beat any crowds, though drizzly weather usually seems to keep too many pickers at bay.
We park the car and zip our rain jackets before climbing out at Zettel Farms on County Road A. We tramp through the mist to a canopy beside the orchard. We ask for two gallon-buckets and head off into the trees, granted free rein to pick as we please. The rows of cherry trees spill a bit wildly beyond their rows. My husband and I duck under the branches until we’re sufficiently cocooned in green leaves and red fruit and begin to pick. We catch each fruit loosely in our fingers and tug until it separates from the stem, the ripe tart cherries pulling easily away.
Cherries drop into our buckets, at first with soft plunks, then with no sound at all, as their juicy flesh cushions the bottom of our pails. The pails seem to fill quickly at first. Then they grow heavy, and sore protestations force us to alternate hands. We pick our share from one tree and then mosey until we find another that looks inviting. No rhyme or reason guides our technique. Filling the buckets to their brims seems to take longer than it actually does. By the time we make it back to the canopy the rain has subsided. We pay for our bounty and head to the grocery store; cherry preserves are in our afternoon plans.
Tart cherries are Door County’s most abundant cherry, but a few orchards still grow sweet ones. Harvest season for cherries begins in mid-July and continues through late July. To have a true Door County experience and pick your own cherries, call ahead to find out when the cherries are ready.
Zettel Farms is a strictly outdoor pick-your-own orchard. The fruit is plentiful and the setting serene.
Distance from the Blacksmith Inn: Driveable in 8 minutes ( 4.6 miles)
Schartner’s Farm Market offers a variety of picking options, from strawberries and cherries in the summer to apples in the fall. Choose from a variety of cherry products and other treats in their store.
Distance from the Blacksmith Inn: Driveable in 20 minutes (14.5 miles)
Choice Orchards just north of Sturgeon Bay has both sweet and tart cherries on its near 200-acre farm.
Distance from the Blacksmith Inn: Driveable in 29 minutes (19.6 miles)
If you just want to enjoy Door County’s harvest without doing the work yourself, Seaquist Orchards’ store is a sight to behold. Choose from their delicious cherry pies and preserves or pick up some frozen cherries for your own baking needs.
Distance from the Blacksmith Inn: Driveable in 16 minutes (11.8 miles)
The cherry has long been the symbol of Door County’s unique and bountiful growing season. No summer on the peninsula would be complete without a trip to one of her beautiful orchards. Before heading out on your fruit-gathering adventure, fuel up with coffee and a freshly-baked cherry muffin in the Blacksmith Inn’s lobby. Check our availability for this year’s cherry season.