California Bountiful TV – U-Pick Capital

California Bountiful TV – U-Pick Capital 1280 720 weblative

U-Pick operations have a long history in Brentwood, California and for generations, families have been traveling to the area and creating fond memories at local U-Pick farms. Now, with dozens of U-Pick operations within a 6-mile radius, the city Brentwood has officially been designated as “U-Pick Capital” of the world. Visitors and “pickers” can make the trek just about any time of year, as the area’s growing season includes everything from strawberries to cherries, peaches, wine, flowers, pumpkins, tomatoes, and even Christmas Trees.

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Brentwood: The U-Pick Capital of the World

Brentwood: The U-Pick Capital of the World 2560 1440 user

Brentwood in Contra Costa County, California, with its temperate climate, rolling hills, and long history of farming, has become known as the “U-Pick Capital of the World.” Ron Nunn, a longtime farmer, recalls how the moniker came to be. It started with ration cards during World War II and a sweet desire for fruit — lots of it. 

“Everybody had a ration card for lard, for meat, for shoes, for tires, for gas,” recalls Nunn. “Everybody used all their stamps if they could.” That meant sugar rations as well. Ladies who canned back in the day were looking for something to do with all that sugar, and they heard that Brentwood farmers were growing peaches. “Some of these people that had come out during the dust bowl had a farm background,” Nunn said. 

Out-of-towners drove over in their sedans, ready to pick and purchase the sweet, juicy fruit. “They came out to Brentwood in ’42, ’43, or ’44,” Nunn said. “These ladies that came out from Richmond and places like that wanted 200 pounds, not a box of peaches. They wanted to stuff the trunk with peaches.”

Back at their houses, the ladies got to canning, and they shared the news with friends and neighbors of their good fortune finding peaches out in Contra Costa County. The peaches “were gorgeous and they were tasty. And we were overwhelmed with people who wanted to pick and buy peaches,” said Nunn, who added that there were only about three farms growing peaches in the area at that time.

Soon, customer demand for cling peaches — better for canning than the freestone variety being sold at fresh markets — had farmers planting clings. (Freestone peaches have flesh that easily pulls away from the pit, or “stone,” while clingstone peaches have flesh that clings to the pit.)

The success of the peaches led to the ladies wanting pears for canning as well.  “Later on, it morphed into cherries, and that’s how it all came together,” Nunn said. “Now there’s not many peaches around here anymore and there’s not many ladies that can peaches anymore.” 

“Including me,” added Nunn’s wife, Shirley Nunn.

Ron Nunn standing in one of his Cherry Orchards located in Brentwood, California 94513

Ron Nunn standing in one of his Cherry Orchards

Even though picking cherries became a fun family outing, the advent of the cherry U-Pick was born partly out of necessity. In the 1970s there was a surplus of the crop but a shortage of the labor needed to harvest it. As had happened earlier on with peaches, cherry growers began opening up their orchards to the public for picking. “Of course, the cherries were much more of a family activity, and so that was the most popular of all,” Nunn said.

We don’t take Brentwood’s reputation as the “U-Pick Capital of the World” lightly. We are proud of our designation — and we have been able to confirm through a hired historian’s research that we have the oldest U-Pick west of the Mississippi as well as the largest number of U-Pick farms within the smallest geographical area. 

While peaches may no longer dominate the U-Pick scene in Contra Costa County, Brentwood’s fertile lands continue to offer a bountiful array of fruits such as cherries, strawberries, blackberries, mulberries, pluots, plums, apricots, pumpkins, flowers, tomatoes, and much more. Throughout the year, the farms welcome eager pickers near and far, providing an opportunity to connect with nature, savor the season’s flavors, and experience the wonder that has made Brentwood the U-Pick Capital. 

510 Families: G&S Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze Is Festive Fun For The Whole Family

510 Families: G&S Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze Is Festive Fun For The Whole Family 1920 1080 user

G&S Farm Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze is Open October 1 – 31
There are very few pumpkin patches where you can pick and cut your very own pumpkin straight from the vine. We were lucky enough to get a sneak peek into their patches to share with our readers. Here’s what to expect when they open in October.

G&S Farms is one of the best we’ve visited and is a practically perfect family activity to enjoy in Brentwood’s ideal autumn climate. Pick beautiful pumpkins of all shapes and colors (even black!) right off the vine, get a little lost in their corn maze, or try your hand at the pumpkin-chuckin’ cannons. Pose for some festive family photos at one of their many locations throughout the premises…

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East Bay Times: Cherry picking season in Brentwood: Small crop, but big crowds await customers

East Bay Times: Cherry picking season in Brentwood: Small crop, but big crowds await customers 1920 1080 user

BRENTWOOD — The traffic backup can start two miles down the road, some parking lots already full soon after opening, while those lucky to have found a spot wait outside in long lines in the hot sun waiting for admission.

No, it’s not Disneyland in the summer —- it’s cherry picking season in Brentwood.

Despite a chill that yielded a lower crop throughout the state this year, crowds made the trek from all over the Bay Area and flocked to Brentwood’s “U-Pick” farms to taste the sweet fruit that’s typically ripe between the end of April and start of June. This Memorial Day weekend was especially brimful of sun-hat wearing people awaiting to fill their buckets full of cherries.

Cherries need about 1,200 hours of “winter chill,” when temperatures drop below 45 degrees but stay above 32 degrees. Larry Enos, owner of 5 Star Cherries at 24782 Marsh Creek Road, said the frost came in at 25 degrees Fahrenheit this year, affecting the buds, which caused a weird bloom season, and a lighter crop. They sell red cherries, Lapin, and Sweetheart variety, plus the white variety, Rainiers…

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Marin Mommies: U-Pick Organic Cherries in Brentwood

Marin Mommies: U-Pick Organic Cherries in Brentwood 1920 1080 user

Cherry season has just started in Northern California, and there’s nothing quite like enjoying a sweet ripe organic cherry picked right off the tree. If you want to go pick your own cherries in the San Francisco Bay Area, you’ll have to head out to the East Bay town of Brentwood, which is more or less our regional cherry growing capital. It’s the perfect destination for a fun and delicious family outing.

Brentwood, in the far eastern reaches of Contra Costa County, is a bit of a drive, but it’s a fun day out and freshly picked cherries are so much better than the ones you get from the supermarket. Brentwood’s location and unique microclimate make for fantastic produce, and it’s well known for it’s springtime cherries and summer sweet corn.

While there are a number of different u-pick cherry farms in Brentwood, there’s only one that grows its cherries organically: Dwelley Family Farms, who have been operating in Brentwood since 1921. They have two different u-pick locations in town, Suzuki and TKs Ranch, as well as a farm stand. Both Suzuki and TKs Ranch are certified organic…

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East Bay Times: Around East County: Brentwood’s u-pick cherry season is here

East Bay Times: Around East County: Brentwood’s u-pick cherry season is here 1920 1080 user

Local residents can generally tell when it’s u-pick season in Brentwood. Traffic slows on the back roads around the farm areas, with more cars visiting and scooping out the best locations to stop and pick their favorite fruit. While some may complain, for the most part, even those who live close by love picking fresh fruit just as much as the tourists who stop by to grab their share.

Earlier this month, Brentwood’s Barbara Turner was one of the first to share her dismay about drivers’ crazy antics on Marsh Creek Road near Walnut Boulevard.
“It’s a love-hate relationship with me,” she laughs. “I occasionally head out that way to go to work on the weekends, and it can be crazy. But then I wouldn’t live anywhere else because I love being able to drive through the back roads of Brentwood and check out the farms myself.”

Despite it all, Turner spent Mother’s Day with her three girls picking fruit at Diablo Cherries on Sellers Avenue…

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