As the weather cools and the trees start to turn, the selection of locally grown produce changes as well. Though local growers may stop carrying your summer favorites, they still have a lot of fresh produce to offer and at a great price.
Where should you go for fresh fall produce? Patch assembled a list of what's in season and where it can be purchased, as well as tips for picking your own fresh items.
What's Growing in Late September and October?
Fall produce usually includes apples (limited quanties this year), Asian pears, beans, broccoli, cabbage, eggplant, grapes, greens, gourds, peppers, pumpkins, raspberries, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and watermelons.
Whether you prefer farmer stands, farmers' markets or U-Pick (more information about this is below), there are plenty of choices nearby.
Farms and Farm Stands
All the farms and farm stands listed below are family-owned and operated. Remember that many items are seasonal and may not be carried all the time. When in doubt, call in advance.
Mid-July - October 30 | W 159th St & Wolf Rd, Orland Park
The produce from the Brandau Farm Stand is brought from its farm in Mokena. In the fall, you can purchase straw, squash, pumpkins, gourds, apples and fall decorations. The Orland Park farm stand is one of three, with locations in and New Lenox as well. Parking is unpaved.
July - October | W 151st St & S 81st Ct, Orland Park
One of the more picturesque farm stands, the Boley Farm Stand is set on the (built in the early 1800s). The stand itself sits in what was formerly the dairy barn. Fall produce often includes colored corn, pumpkins (white and orange), gourds, hay and other seasonal items. In addition to fresh produce, it sells honey from Frankfort and herbs grown in Homer Glen. Parking is paved.
Garden Patch Farms & Orchard (U-Pick & Farm Stand)
April 16 - December | 14154 W. 159th Street, Homer Glen
In the fall, the Garden Patch decorates for the season. Items include baking and decorative pumpkins (both in store and U-Pick), mums, gourds, apple cider, Indian corn, corn stalks and straw. Family friendly entertainment includes a bouncing castle for the kids and chickens to feed.
Early July - October 31 | 10301 W 159th St, Orland Park
This roadside farm stand sells fresh seasonal produce through the end of October. In the fall, you can purchase pumpkins, gourds, straw, squash, apples and fall decorations. It also has a refrigerated section with chopped fruits and other prepared produce. Parking is unpaved.
Zeldenrust Farm Market
Mid-April - December | 1001 Glenwood Dyer Rd, Chicago Heights
Founded in 1969, this roadside market offers pumpkins, squash, mums, gourds, Indian corn, corn stalks, apples and more.
Bengtston Pumpkin Farm
October | 13341 West 151 St, Lockport
Complete with U-pick pumpkin farm, hayrides, pony rides, corn maze, hay rides, pig races, and more, the Bengtston Pumpkin Farm can be an all day event.
October | 24936 S. 80th Avenue, Monee
Features U-Pick pumpkins, corn maze, tractor-pulled hay rides, honey from hives on the farm, refreshment stand, face painting, petting zoo, farm animals and more. Open for birthday parties and school trips as well.
October (Pumpkin Patch) | 12700 Southwest Hwy, Palos Park
During Pumpkin Days at the Center, find U-Pick pumpkins (free admission), gourds, mini pumpkins, straw bales, corn stalks, carving tools, local honey and more. In addition, it offers a Pumpkin Playland ($7 admission) with a petting farm, barn tours, the Straw Bale Climber, Giant Corn Box and Crazy Maze-y.
Last weekend in September - October | 13901 Wolf Rd, Orland Park
Open just for the fall, Delair's Cornstalk Farm offers pre-picked pumpkins, corn maze, apples, gourds, a craft barn, homemade jellies, custom made painted pumpkins and more.
Konow's Corn Maze
September 24 - October 30 | 16849 S Cedar Rd Homer Glen
Konow's offers pumpkins, straw bales, corn stalks, and fall decorations. With admission, kids can explore a straw bale playground, petting zoo, hayrides, cornfield and more.
Farmers markets are another great place to get fresh produce. Many local farms bring products to sell.
There are so many around that we found one for every day of the week:
- Monday -
- Tuesday - and
- Wednesday - , and Lansing
- Thursday -
- Friday - and
- Saturday - and
- Sunday - and Beverly
Meaning pick your own produce, U-Pick farms offer you the chance to actually go out into the field and select each fruit and vegetable by hand.
There are several large farms nearby. Some are very specialized; others carry a wider variety of items. U-Pick is an excellent opportunity to teach children about nature, farming and healthy eating.
If you do bring the family, make sure to respect the rules of the farm.
Pick (and allow your children to pick) only what you are planning on buying. If your kids pick underripe produce, you still have to buy it. Dumping unwanted items on the ground is not only rude, it takes money out of the pockets of local farmers.
Tips and Tricks
Shopping at a farm, farm stand or farmers market is quite different than going to a grocery store. Here are a few suggestions to make your experience enjoyable and productive.
- Don't let nature get the best of you. Bring bug spray, sun block, bottled water and wipes to keep yourself refreshed and safe.
- Bear in mind that the precise growing times of these items will vary based on weather. Always check with the grower before planning a trip.
- Not all places supply bags, so bring a few of your own.
- Not all lots are paved. Park carefully especially in wet weather.
- Bring cash. Most places won't take credit cards, and only some take checks.
- Dress in clothing you are willing to get dirty.
What to Do Next?
What do you do with all this great produce after you buy it? Check out these great ideas for fall creativity: