RAYMOND, Minn. (WCCO) -- When it comes to berries, nothing beats the ones you pick yourself, given the choice to pick the best of the crop, so we wanted to know where you most prefer to go berry picking in Minnesota.
Your votes sent us to western Minnesota. This is Brouwer Berries in Raymond!
"So the deal is, he grows them, I sell them," Sarah Brouwer, owner of Brouwer Berries, said. "We have this running contest. And I win every year. It's that simple."
"One of these years I'll get close!" said Dan Brouwer.
Sarah and Dan Brouwer have opened their family farm up to all strawberry lovers, so they too can pick their own sweet treats.
"They wait by the 'All Aboard' sign and get a wagon ride out to the field," Sarah said. "It's such a highlight. They love the tractor ride out to the field."
It's the kind of experience that spans generations.
"I think the last time I picked berries I was 16. Now I'm going to be 37 and am picking with my son," one customer said.
"I love it when the generations come out," Sarah said. "When I see the kids, the mom and the grandma nad grandpa, it's the most wonderful thing,"
The Brouwers began their berry journey in 1999.
"There I was, sitting at home with a 2-year-old boy eating supper," Sarah said. "My husband says, 'By the way, I bought some strawberry plants.' I didn't think anything of it -- maybe a backyard garden. He says 1,500 plants. What for?! He said, 'My mom and I are going to start a 'you-pick' operation."
They had a quarter of an acre they'd open to friends and family, and the berries would be gone in a matter of minutes.
"We had to decide three years ago, do we get big or get out? It was at the point where we would open at 8:00, and by 8:15 we would have to close," Sarah said.
So they planted a lot -- six acres available for picking -- and hoped that people would come.
"And they have come," Sarah said. "It's been wonderful. The people have come."
Now, their whole family pitches in on the farm.
"We've got five kids. The oldest is out of the house. They all help," Sarah said. "Our 4-year-old even drove the golf cart out to the field yesterday. He said he had to get customers."
Friends make pies, and Sarah makes the jam.
"It's just turned into this fun friends and family experience," Sarah said.
Like their berries, the Brouwer family farm keeps growing each year, and so does their following.
"We are just grateful for the weather, the people, for just the blessing of everything coming together," Sarah said.
The berry picking season isn't a long one, so if you want to get out you have just a few more weeks to do so.
The Brouwers wanted to let viewers know that all the berry growers in Minnesota are great -- if you want to find a berry farm close to you, go to minnesotagrown.com, enter your zip code and it will give you a list of suggestions.
Your other favorite spots are Anderson Berry Farm in Isanti, Grayson's Berryland in Clear Lake and Lorence's Berry Farm in Northfield.
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