Haymarket: Burnside Farms + Pickle Bob’s

Where: 2570 Logmill Rd., Haymarket, VA
When: Monday-Friday, 10 am- 6 pm, Saturday 9 am- 6 pm, Sunday 10 am- 6 pm.

My husband tried to get me to agree to move to Haymarket awhile back. I balked, because I’m no country mouse. I like to visit the country, but I don’t want to live there. Nor do I wish to live in a city. Suburbia is the place for me, as uncool as that is to admit these days. I like order, and convenience, and Wegmans.

“But you love that flower place out in Haymarket,” my husband said, which is absolutely true but also not a standalone argument for picking up and moving to a whole new city. “Whydja move to Haymarket?” they’d ask. “Sure do like that flower farm over there” we’d have to say.

Although it (probably) won’t convince you to move to Haymarket, I think Burnside Farms can at least convince you to visit Haymarket. Each year Burnside Farms holds their Festival of Spring, when different spring flowers bloom and are available for picking. In March come the daffodils, followed by tulips and Dutch iris in April and May. I took my girls one warm day in late April during the 10-day period when Burnside Farms said the tulips would be at their peak and the sight of those tulips was something to behold. A whole field of tulips in the middle of Virginia farmland! Burnside Farms calls this part of the season Holland in Haymarket, and they even have a giant set of wooden clogs that kids can pose in for the full effect.

I spent a full $25 on tulips the day we went because I just couldn’t stop cutting them and adding them to my basket. If you went after April 28 it’s possible there were none left after I scavenged the fields. Sorry about that.

A wet winter decimated the Dutch iris harvest in May, but I made sure to keep an eye on Burnside Farms’ Facebook page all summer for updates on when their Summer of Sunflowers would begin. A rainy start to summer led to a later bloom date than usual, but the sunflowers were finally ready to be cut starting in early August and I immediately planned a trip out. “Didn’t you JUST go pick flowers like, last week?” you might be asking. Yes I did. But there’s a few things in life you can never have too much of:

Friends
Flowers
Mascara

And you can take that to the bank.

Admission to Summer of Sunflowers is $4/person for one day passes but after that, how much you spend is up to you. Flowers are priced on a per-stem basis so it’s your discretion how many flowers you pick and how much you’ll spend accordingly.

Along with the sunflowers, Burnside Farms has planted gladiolus because they are tall like sunflowers and the two flowers look particularly nice arranged in a vase together.

They’re great. But let’s be honest…

The sunflowers are the stars of the show. How can you even resist them!?

Though rain was promised by good old Capital Weather Gang, the day ended up being blisteringly hot, especially out there in the shade-less flower fields. I kept my flower cutting to a minimum to appease my hot children who were ready to get up under the shady trees and eat some lunch. Nonetheless, the six stems I did grab look mighty tall and beautiful on my dining room table:

In addition to the flowers, the kind folks at Burnside Farms set up a fun bubble stand for kids to play with, consisting of a bird bath filled with bubble solution and handmade bubble wands in different shapes:

My kids spent a good chunk of time swarming around this bird bath, blowing bubbles with the bubble wands and then chasing the bubbles into the flowers.

A cute chalkboard table was set up with a note to get creative and make a fun chalkboard sign for your pictures:

I stood here for quite awhile trying to come up with something good. I… completely failed myself. I couldn’t think of one good thing to write on these chalkboards. Well, I take that back; I did try to write NOVADVENTURING on one but I suffered from a lack of foresight when choosing my blog name and it turns out Novadventuring is a pretty long word to try to cram onto a tiny chalkboard. So it looked like this: NOVADVENTU. And then I was out of room. I eventually just gave up.

I again brought a vase along to stick my flowers into for the trip home, but if you forget a vase or just want to buy a new one for your pretty flowers (valid), Burnside Farms sells a variety of colored glass bud vases and glass and painted Mason jars:

Helpful tips:

-Burnside operates two different fields- their regular field where the spring flowers are planted is across the highway from the summer flower field. If you’ve been to Burnside Farms in the spring this might initially be confusing. The address at the top of this post is the address for the summer fields where the sunflower operation is.

-Burnside Farms does accept cash AND cards for all purchases and admission.

-Outside food is allowed and picnic tables are thoughtfully placed under a small copse of trees to provide shade while you sit and eat lunch.

Because this is the way I like to do things, after we were done at Burnside Farms we headed five miles down the highway into Haymarket to try the local ice cream shop, Pickle Bob’s.

Everyone, this is Pickle Bob. Can we all give a nice warm Novadventuring welcome to Pickle Bob?

Hi Pickle Bob.

Why is a pickle in a cup of ice cream? I have no answers. I’m asking in case you know.

Pickle Bob’s is a small ice cream stand located on a teeny side street in Haymarket. There’s no indoor seating but there are picnic tables set up outside for you to sit and enjoy your soft serve.

If you have a dog, bring the dog with you- Pickle Bob’s serves “pup cups” of ice cream for dogs!

Pickle Bob’s serves vanilla, chocolate, and swirled soft serve but they offer all manner of toppings as well as concoctions called “tornadoes” and “flavor bursts” and other vaguely meteorological sounding ice cream treats. There’s recently been chatter on their Facebook page about adding cereal as a menu topping but I didn’t see any evidence of that so … what do we need to do to get Fruity Pebbles on tap at Pickle Bob’s? I will also settle for Cocoa Pebbles.

If you can’t make it out to Haymarket for the Summer of Sunflowers, be sure to set aside a weekend in the fall to visit Burnside Farms’ fall market, which features barnyard animals, pumpkins and gourds, mums, and freshly picked apples. And definitely mark your calendars to attend Holland in Haymarket next spring- ideally before I am able to get there so there will still be tulips left standing in the fields.

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Great Country Farms + Bluemont

Where: 18780 Foggy Bottom Rd., Bluemont, VA
When: Open daily from 9 am- 6 pm. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for kids, and children under 2 are free. However, discounted admission is frequently offered.

I was recently chatting with a man who was talking to me about his girlfriend. “Her family owns a farm out in Bluemont,” he said. “Wait- is it Great Country Farms?” I asked and he said it was. No no no, I told him. Your girlfriend’s family doesn’t own a farm in Bluemont- they own the farm of all farms. It was if someone casually mentioned to you that their uncle plays piano and then you found out their uncle is Stevie Wonder. Great Country Farms is the Stevie Wonder of farms.

I can measure my children’s lives in trips to Great Country Farms. I have a picture of my oldest as a toddler sitting in the grass in front of the Roosteraunt and picking dandelions. Her next visit is documented in a picture of her sticking her head through those animal-cutout boards the wrong way. There’s a shot of her clutching her Easter basket at her first Easter Egg hunt there (the basket is empty because the adults who go to that hunt are insane, but I digress). My youngest made her first trip before she was even mobile, and each time we go she’s seemingly aged into a new activity there. Here she is standing unsteadily by a slide; here she is petting a goat and confidently going down the slide. Great Country Farms is a place you take your children only to realize how much they’ve grown since you first started taking them. It’s a measuring stick for their childhood.

Fact: You will never run out of stuff to do at Great Country Farms. Not on one visit, and perhaps not ever. I have been going there for four years and we still have not completed every single activity there is to do there. There’s a petting zoo pen, there’s playground areas tucked into wooded pockets, there’s mazes, there’s tube slides, there’s tire swings, there’s a sluice for mining gems from packets of dirt you buy in the store, there’s mini golf, there’s laser tag, there’s ride on scooters, there’s a jumping pillow, there’s wagon rides and U-Pick fruit. There’s seasonal festivals and special events.

I’ve suggested it before, but if you haven’t yet subscribed to Certifikid, make sure to sign up. GCF frequently offers reduced ticket prices through Certifikid. Their recent offer is one we purchased- $5 admission with a $2 voucher per ticket to go towards your U-Pick produce or merchandise in the store. Currently available for U-Pick: PEACHES. My family are fools for peaches, so we headed to GCF intending to play and pick peaches.

To pick fruit, you wait outside the store for the wagon to arrive, pick you up, and transport you across the street to the orchard where you pick to your heart’s content and then pay for your fruit back at the store. (Peaches are just $1.99/lb at GCF.) However, my kids didn’t feel like waiting for the wagon, so our original plan to pick peaches was scrapped and we instead just roamed the farm playing and visiting animals.

There is a restaurant on-site called the Roosteraunt, but it is only open on the weekends, so if you’re at GCF on a weekday, pack a lunch to bring along. My kids and I sat and ate our lunch at a picnic table on the porch of the Roosteraunt. Country music was being piped though a loudspeaker and we heard “The Bluest Eyes in Texas,” which is the third best country song ever (behind “Straight Tequila Night” by John Anderson and Reba’s “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia”).We also heard “Still the One” by Shania Twain, which is the worst country song ever. (These are highly formal findings from a poll conducted on myself by myself.)

Because my children weren’t as interested in the peach picking as I had hoped, we used our $4 voucher from our admission tickets to instead buy a fresh peach slushy from the store which we enjoyed outside before getting back in the car. In the late summer/early fall GCF starts making and selling the most divine apple cider donuts dusted in cinnamon sugar and I was hoping we could get some of those but they weren’t for sale yet. Soon. Soon.

Make a day of it: 

Not only is GCF amazing on its own, it is located directly across the street from Bluemont Vineyard, which has possibly the most incredible view of any winery in Northern Virginia. It is located on top of a large hill (small mountain?) and the deck of the tasting room looks out over the land below:

We all know I love my wineries, but truly, visit Bluemont Vineyard if only to take in the view. Bluemont Vineyard is open every day except Tuesday.

Not even half a mile down the road from Great Country Farms and Bluemont Vineyard is Dirt Farm Brewing, a farm and taproom offering beers brewed with hops and grain grown here in Loudoun County. The tasting room is open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

As you head through the village of Bluemont heading back toward Rt. 7, consider pulling over at E.E. Lake General Store, which has free books for the taking on the front porch. There’s also Bluemont General Store which is filled to the brim with local treats.

If you’ve been to Bluemont  and Great Country Farms before, you know it’s worth visiting again (and again). If you haven’t been, go! It’ll be the start of a long childhood tradition for you and your kids. Head over this weekend (July 31, August 1-2) for the Peach Fuzztival, featuring a peach pancake breakfast and peach pit spitting contests. Bluemont Vineyard joins the celebration by serving their The Peach wine and Dirt Farm Brewing will be serving their specially crafted Peach Beer. If you want to wait until the next big event, the Fall Harvest Festival kicks off September 26th and it is SOMETHING. There’s pig races, a pumpkin-chomping dinosaur, a corn maze, a pumpkin patch, and THE APPLE CIDER DONUTS. Donuts. Dinosaurs. Do it.