Fruit fresh from the farm gate is hard to beat.

Opportunities to get out into orchards, among the vines or down in the strawberry patch are ripe for the picking in the Dandenong Ranges and Yarra Valley during spring.

The U-Pick season varies according to the fruit and there can be a limited window of opportunity to indulge in some, so planning farm yard forays is the best strategy to be sure to get a taste of all that’s on offer.

Visitors who don’t have time this season to pick for themselves can grab freshly picked fruit straight from buckets, barrels and bins at many farms and orchards.

Fruits and berries on offer include strawberries, blueberries, boysenberries, currants, raspberries, cherries, loganberries, youngberries, a wonderful variety of stone fruit…and even lemons.

Each farm has its own flavour and facilities.

Visitors can linger in farm cafes and take home some home-style jams, sauces or chutneys to extend their experience or as a unique gift for family and friends.

Some farms even offer bottling workshops.

Different farms have different payment structures so it’s a good idea to phone ahead to be sure of fees and payment options available.

Sensible footwear, a hat and sunscreen are a must, and for those picking or buying fresh, a cooler bag will ensure the fruit survives the drive home in top condition.

Information centres can recommend U-Pick and farm gate sale locations.

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