I have been to this picturesque hill station quite a number of times but had never experienced the joy of strawberry plucking right from the farm. So, in our previous journeys, we never were in Mahabaleshwar during the strawberry season. But fortunately, this time we were and we took full advantage of it.
If you are traveling with kids, make sure to plan this activity. I can vouch they will love it. My 4-year-old was so excited, running around the green patch while plucking strawberries with her little hands.
When to visit?
If you are planning a visit to a strawberry farm to pick your own strawberries, you could visit between November and March. Although, travelers vouch for January and February to be the best seasons. Luckily, we went in March 2020, just before the lockdown was announced. The climate was cool in the morning, but the afternoons were hot. So, we visited the farm early in the morning. Most farms open by 8 am in the season.
Where to visit?
There are several pick-your-own strawberry farms in Mahabaleshwar. We did a quick google search and visited the Laxmi Strawberry Farm, mainly because it had the most reviews.
It was approx. an hour drive from our hotel. After having a light breakfast, we headed to this beautiful farm, following google maps. We called a night before our visit to make sure strawberries were waiting to be plucked 😛
Run by a local family, this farm is beautiful and well-maintained. So before taking you inside the farm, they brief you on their charges. For every person deciding to pluck, they will hand a basket and charge for each basket (Rs. 100). So, if you are in a gang, and not everybody wants to pick, you can decide to take a few baskets.
Their only rule is to after you are done picking strawberries, you will have to compulsorily purchase them at their rate. It is not a big issue as the strawberries were fresh and juicy and the cost affordable considering you get to experience picking them on your own.
Tips to pick the best strawberries
Well, I had the most fun searching for red strawberries amidst the vast green patch. The rule is to pick the berry carefully, leaving the stem attached. Also, the redder the strawberry the better it is. Half green or orange berries mean they are not ripe and if you pick them at this stage, they may not ripe even with time. And yes, don’t fixate on the size of the strawberry, it has nothing to do with its sweetness.
How do I know so much? Well, the farm staff helped us with tricks to choose the best. How to find them and pluck them. Please be aware of your surroundings, and make sure not to run around or step on the plants. The fun is when you follow the centre lines and pick them carefully.
So next time you are in the idyllic hill station of Mahabaleshwar, do go for strawberry picking fresh from the farm. And it’s ok if you have them as soon as you pick. My daughter had it and relished the experience.