Cornucopia South Carolina

There are many reasons to revel in the rural, northwest notch of South Carolina. In the region known as “the upstate”, rolling hills hold a patchwork of pretty farms with distant views of North Carolina’s peaks. Breezes are scented with new-mown hay and apple blossoms. Listen for sounds of cowbells and the whir of windmills. Best of all, the winding and scenic country roads are where you’ll find  u-pick farms galore.

Stay in the region all summer if possible.  Many folks come up from Florida or the steamy “low country” to stay all season in condos or campgrounds. Summer spans from rhubarb, asparagus and strawberries in springtime to the pumpkin harvest in the  fall. Some farms are open to visitors all year because they sell specialty dairy products from their herds of goats or cows, or they have retail stores that sell preserves, relishes,  cheeses and sausages and other products preserved  from the summer harvest.

The region's waterwheel-powered grain mills such as Hagood Mill and Timms Mill are also open throughout the year, selling stone-ground cornmeal and hosting special shindigs such as historic  re-enactments or bluegrass music blowouts. All mills are open only during limited days and hours. Check ahead.

Most u-pick farmers put out their shingles only when the berries are ripe or chickens are laying or sweet corn is in season. They plant their crops to assure that one or more harvests are at their peak at all times. You might stop in today for strawberries and come back next month  to pick blackberries. You not only get the pick of the crop, fresh on the spot, you pay less than you’d pay in supermarkets for produce from  “factory” farms far away.

By the end of summer you’ll have a peck of memories, a pantry filled with homemade jams and an address book filled with new friends. The bottom line: Visitors Welcome signs invite you to look, harvest, eat, chat.

If You Go

Go to   Search the state by counties. Those in the upstate known for u-pick farms include Oconee, Anderson and Pickens.

Bring your own containers, bug spray and sun protection. Be prepared to pay cash,  sometimes on the honor system.

Janet Groene is an award-winning travelwriter and author who blogs about RV travel at Traveling by RV she cooks and preserves local foods everywhere she goes.