If warm weather in Northeast Indiana beckons you to fields of fruits, veggies, and flowers, you’ll want to explore the region’s many U-Pick farms.
From spring to fall, these farms allow you to handpick and taste the freshest, locally grown produce, or design your own wildflower arrangement, and make a day of it.
If you venture about an hour Southwest of Fort Wayne into the rural fields of Wabash County, you’re likely to find multiple U-Pick locations
, ranging from those with centuries-old legacies to newer businesses with Instagram-ready crop rows.
We explore a historic farm and an up-and-coming flower field to visit on your next U-Pick adventure.
Strawberries from David Doud’s Countyline Orchard.David Doud’s Countyline Orchard
7877W 400N, Wabash, IN 46992
At David Doud’s Countyline Orchard
, their farm motto is “locally grown fruit in season.” The idyllic, family-owned farm has been around since the 1850s, says Valerie Doud, who co-owns the land with her husband, David. Although the farm has had many different uses over the centuries, Doud says the land nowadays has apples, Asian pears, peaches, and U-pick strawberries.
“We just finished our 31st year of growing strawberries,” she says. “We’ve had a chance to go through a lot of different varieties, and we know what our customers like. We have more than an acre of U-pick strawberries. It’s a lovely place for families to gather and pick their own strawberries at a reasonable price and an excellent value.”
Come August, the farm sells peaches and pears, too.
“All that we sell here on our farm is raised here, so people who come to our farm know that they’re getting Wabash County-grown fruit,” Doud says.
Peaches from David Doud’s Countyline Orchard.
U-pick season varies according to the weather, but typically begins in June when the strawberries begin to ripen.
“We’ll mark the roads, and families and individuals can come out, park their car, and get a container,” Doud says. “We’ll show them where they can go out to the patch, show them how to pick, and once they have the amount they want, they can bring them up to us. We’ll weigh them, and they pay per pound.”
The retired biology teacher enjoys seeing families out in nature and taking simple steps to live healthier lifestyles. Doud says it’s important for people to understand nutrition, and the impact that sourcing food locally can have. Walking the patch and hand-picking strawberries that were grown right on site is not only fun, but also economical.
“More locally-grown fruits not only taste better, but they also provide better nutrition and a better value, too,” Doud says.
Pears from David Doud’s Countyline Orchard.
Picking conditions vary daily, but typically take place in a morning session from 8 a.m. to noon, and an evening session from 5 to 8 p.m. when there are enough berries available. U-pick is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. The farm is closed on Sunday.
Parking is available next to the strawberry patch, and visitors are given a tray with a box for their fruit. There is a handwashing station on site, as well. Doud encourages people to bring hats, comfortable shoes, sunscreen, water, and to call ahead to check on conditions.
Their phone line (765-833-6122) is updated daily with picking conditions, as are their Facebook and Instagram
Flowers from Wild Blooms U Pick Flower Farm.Wild Blooms U Pick Flower Farm
2001 W-500 S., Wabash IN, 46992
New to the area, Wild Blooms U Pick Flower Farm
is another local U-pick farm. Sitting on nearly 1.5 acres, Wild Blooms is owned by Stephanie Peebles and her husband, Grant. Peebles says the farm, which is filled to the brim with rows of wildflowers, is a dream come true for her.
“I’ve always grown flowers from a young age,” she says. “Later marrying a farmer allowed me to farm those flowers on a larger scale. It was just a dream for quite a while.”
Peebles became inspired to plant her own flower farm while she was sitting on her porch in the middle of summer.
“I just started sketching out plans, and I felt prompted to call it ‘Wild Blooms,’ from the Gospel of Luke. Christ says ‘consider wildflowers and how they grow,’” Peebles says.
The farm has mostly wildflower mixes native to Indiana and the Midwest, seeded in May, and in full bloom for their grand opening in the second week of July 2022. So far, the most popular are the Sunflowers, which include five varieties.
“Everyone also loves the Zinnias,” Peebles says. “I planted all different styles, shapes, and sizes. Those are a hot commodity. That’s normally what people will do their pictures with. It is almost two acres, so when you’ve got two rows of Zinnias, the pictures some people take are just stunning.”
The farm also has baby’s breath, poppies, cosmos, and daisies planned for next year, in addition to a variety of wildflower mixes. The flower rows run North to South, with seven-foot beds, and a four-foot walkway between them.
Flowers from Wild Blooms U Pick Flower Farm.
“I want people to walk through it and get immersed in it,” Peebles says. “My goal was to have it be packed to the brim because I want to be a good steward of what we’ve got, and what we’re farming.”
Peebles says the Wabash community’s response has already been incredible, despite only being open to the public for less than a month.
“We were blessed to have so many people come out,” she says. “What’s nice is in this rural community, when there’s something new to do, people really get excited about it.”
Peebles admits she was a bit nervous, but is happy to hear about the joy her fields bring to people when they drive by, see the flowers, and visit the farm.
“It’s been really encouraging,” she says. “You work on something from May to July almost every day, and you hope people will actually care about it.”
She considers this first season a true “growing season,” rolling with the punches, and figuring out what works well in the area. The farm is not irrigated, and Peebles says it’s been a test of her faith, but she feels as if it’s her calling.
She’s taking the time to figure out best how to succession seed the farm, using direct seed, hand-scattering methods, and more.
“The entire farm, if I were to put it in one sentence, is just to cultivate beauty so other people can experience it,” she says. “It has been a blessing to be able to do it.”
Visitors are invited to experience the beauty of the flower farm Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Individual reservations for private farm times are also available.
“Normally, the lot is pretty full because I don’t want everything to get picked,” Peebles says. “If it was open seven days a week, we wouldn’t sustain. It gives time for the flowers to regrow, and it also builds a little bit of excitement for people. It’s more of an experience of getting out in the field versus buying flowers at a local Walmart.”
Wild Blooms U Pick Flower Farm owner Stephanie Peebles stands in her tilled flower beds before planting begins.
Once visitors have parked, they can walk along the stone path, lined with lilies, leading up to the shed. Inside the self-serve shed, they’ll grab a $20 wide-mouth, quart mason jar, and garden snips. There are instructions detailing how to cut the flowers on a 45-degree angle, and tips like removing leaves to fit more flowers in your jar, and how often you should refresh the water back home. There are also t-shirts and logo seed packets for sale.
If you bring back your jar, you receive a $1 discount. Peebles recommends U-pick visitors wear comfortable shoes you don’t mind getting dirty (in case of rain or mud) and to be cautious if you have serious bee allergies.
In the future, she hopes to add flower arrangement classes and workshops to her business. She has already planted 100-150 pumpkin plants and is hopeful to host a fall festival. In the spring, she has U-pick plans for tulips and her favorite, the ranunculus flower. The flower farm also makes a great, colorful location for couples photos and high school senior photo shoots.
Wabash is the focus of a Partner City series in Input Fort Wayne underwritten by Visit Wabash County and Honeywell Arts & Entertainment. This series will capture the story of talent, creativity, investment, innovation, and emerging assets shaping the future of Wabash County, about an hour Southwest of Fort Wayne.