So when my husband was reminiscing about cherry picking in his childhood, and I found out the farm they visited had an industrial PITTER you could use, I immediately jumped at the chance to try it out for ourselves. I hate pitting cherries, especially when I have to do it for not just myself but my children also (tried giving one to Eli to just eat around, and he ate the entire pit!). And I've never even attempted making my own fresh cherry pie since it would require so much pitting (and I prefer my hands not be stained purple). Even though that has long been my favorite type of pie. But I am happy to report that this has been rectified, as we were able to visit the Tree-Mendus Fruit Farm while in Indiana for July 4th, and now happily have a freezer full of pitted, ready-to-pie, cherries.
There's a bit of paperwork to be done to pick fruit at Tree-mendous Fruit Farm. Your first stop is in the store to pick up a permit and see what is available for the day.
Then you drive out to the orchard and find the rows of trees and pick up your buckets. There are two very different types of cherries to choose between. We chose some of the darker, sweet cherries to eat raw (left the stems on thinking it may keep them fresher), and then mainly filled up on bright red tart cherries to be used in pies and other cooking endeavors (they will be pitted, so you don't need to leave stems on). I think my boys like carrying buckets more than they like actually picking.
Tart on the left, best for baking while the sweet cherries on the right are great raw.
You would think Elijah did all the work!
After this you head to the pitter station, where they will pit all your tart cherries for you ($0.30/lb). There are several steps in getting the cherries ready, and the boys really liked getting to help and observe the process.
I want one of these! (and a few dozen trees)
Then, you finally head back to the store to pay for your fruit (and anything else you can't resist picking up). (Of course there is still more work to be done once you get home. We decided to portion all the berries into 2 lb packages each, using zip-lock freezer bags, that would be ready to thaw and use in pies.)
There are plenty of areas around the farm for photo ops, picnics at tables, and playground type areas for the kids. They can also check out some goats as well. And there are nice clean bathrooms in the store (or port-a-potties around the farm). Pretty much everything you would need or want for spending some time out with little ones.
After we had picked (raspberries also, which the boys love), and picnicked on the grounds, we headed to a nearby beach. Despite growing up in Indiana I rarely spent any time in Michigan, and I think this was actually the first time I've set food in Lake Michigan, and was the boys first time into any of the Great Lakes. We just waded in and let the boys play in the sand for a while, and walked out on the pier. Made for a beautiful day.