Shoppers who arrived early at Twin Cities farmers markets this past weekend were fortunate enough to snap up the very first locally raised strawberries of the season. Ambrosia, right?
Their appearance was also a harbinger of more warm-weather news, in the form of the 2012 U-pick season, which kicks off this week at a number of Minnesota and western Wisconsin farms.
Here's a list of 25 close-to-the-metro-area venues for strawberry self-starters. Call ahead -- or consult the farm's website -- before heading out.
Anoka: Berry Hill Farm, 6510 185th Av. N.W., 763-753-5891
Champlin: Bauer Berry Farm, 10830 French Lake Rd., 763-421-4384
Clear Lake: Grayson's Berryland, 6705 Country Rd. 8 SE., 1-320-743-3384
Delano: Apple Jack Orchards, 4875 37th St. SE., 763-972-6673
Elk River: Becks Elk River Greenhouse & Vegetable Farm, 15362 190th Av., 763-263-2631
Faribault: Straight River Farm, 3733 220th St. E., 1-507-334-2226
Forest Lake: The Berry Patch, 19221 Keystone Av. N., 651-433-3448
Hastings: Afton Apple Orchard, 14421 S. 90th St., 651-436-8385
Hastings: Sam Kedem Nursery Garden, 12414 191st St. E., 651-437-7516
Hastings: Wyatt's Strawberries, 10370 180 St. E., 651- 437-8479
Hinckley: Ben's Berry Farm, 34921 Two Rivers Rd., 1-320-384-7232
Above: A previous year's opening day draws a crowd to Sam's Produce in Arkansaw, Wis.
Lakeville: Applewood Orchard, 22702 Hamburg Av., 952-985-5425
Marine on St. Croix: Natura Farms, 19060 Manning Trail N., 651-433-5850
Monticello: The Strawberry Basket, 12591 Aetna Ave NE., 763-878-2875
Northfield: Lorences Berry Farm, 28625 Foliage Av., 1-507-645-9749
Northfield: Silkey Gardens, E. 115th St., 1-507-645-4158
Rochester: Firefly Berries, 5542 23rd St. NE., 1-507-252-1309
St. Joseph: A&G Produce, 10448 345 St., 1-320-290-0907
Shafer: Pleasant Valley Orchard, 17325 Pleasant Valley Rd., 651-257-9159
South Haven: Fairhaven Farm, 13835 51st Av., 1-320-236-7685
White Bear Lake: Pine Tree Apple Orchard, 450 Apple Orchard Rd., 651-429-8026
Above: The fruits of a few hours of picking.
Arkansaw: Sam's Produce, 7272 Cty. Rd. P, 1-715-285-5351
Eau Claire: Appledore Woods, W3865 Cty. Rd. HH, 1-715-834-5697
Glenwood City: Green Hill Farm, 3234 140th Av., 1-715-265-4004
Osceola: Demulling Farms, 466 240th St., 1-715-294-3742