One thing I never really understood as a kid was going to an orchard and picking your own fruit. Especially apple picking. It was such a foreign concept to me that I never thought I would do it of my own accord. Thankfully, a friendly invite from a friend saw me venturing to Schnepf Farms here in Arizona to harvest my own ripe peaches.
Schnepf Farms is located out in rural Queen Creek, Arizona. They’re well known for two particular seasonal foods: Peaches and pumpkins. We visited at the tail end of peach season (end of May) to check out their annual peach festival. The festival itself was pretty small and self-contained: arts and crafts vendors, barbeque, drinks, and the insanely popular shaved ice stand. What interested us more was the pick-your-own peaches activity.
Picking your own peaches
The deal here is that you pay by the pound. You can pick as many or as few as you want. The secret to finding healthy, ripe peaches is to check the skin color to see if they’re more golden. The less red and the more gold, the juicier and riper the fruit will be. You grab a paper bag or cardboard tray and make your way down the rows of trees.
The trees are pretty short by tree standards but they contain a wealth of fruit. The soil was dry and cracked, baked in the unrelenting Arizona sun. Fallen peaches littered the ground between cracks and weeds, giving the air a sticky-sweet smell as they began to rot in the sunshine. The first few peaches I picked had some skin torn off in the process. I realized that I had to pull closer to the stem to ensure maximum picking accuracy. The rows of trees went on for a couple hundred feet, with people interspersed at random intervals, filling their boxes and bags with the end-of-season picks.
The peaches themselves were phenomenal: There’s nothing quite as delicious as a warm peach that’s been split slightly by the sun, the juices bursting from the skin as you take the first bite. The sugar from the fruit really helped to cure the fatigue of being in the heat for so long, rejuvenating your spirits and getting you excited for the pie or crumble you’ll be making later. If you’re ever in Arizona in May (which you might not be, due to the increasing temperatures), I would highly recommend a quick stop in Queen Creek to get yourself some amazing peaches. You won’t be disappointed!