Fresher tastes best. That’s the homegrown difference! Fresh produce provides more nutritional value and leaves a smaller carbon footprint, which makes our environment healthier as well.
You don’t need to have your own garden to experience the joy that comes from fresh vegetables straight off the vine or from the ground. Eckert’s Belleville Farm proudly offers everyone in Southwest Illinois and the Greater St. Louis area the chance to pick your own fruits and vegetables during the summer months. When crop season arrives between early June and early August, go to our Crop Updates page or give us a call to find out what’s available. Then head to Eckert’s and pick up a Field Access Pass that lets you spend all day rambling through our picking areas and selecting your favorite produce to bring home.
We grow dozens of vegetables in our fields with something for everyone to enjoy. On any given day, you may find fresh tomatoes, sweet corn, kale, onions, peppers and beets. Or, pick your own cucumbers, squash and zucchini if you’re feeling like getting creative in the kitchen. Most vegetables are available in multiple varieties with the rich nutrients, amazing taste and smaller ecological footprint you only get from freshly picked veggies. Our Vegetables page has more about the produce we offer along with prices, harvesting advice and storage recommendations, so you can enjoy them at their best.
Belleville is less than half an hour from St. Louis, meaning even city folks are just a short drive away from the freshest veggies possible. And you don’t have to spend months planting, watering and weeding your own garden in order to pick your own from the farms of Eckert’s! Our Country Store and Farms is one of the best attractions in Illinois for family fun and outdoor activities. While you’re here, check out the Garden Center for other seasonal vegetables and plants. You can even cut your own Christmas tree during the winter! Plan your visit today and discover the homegrown difference.
2019 Prices (Pick-Your-Own Veggies May Be Mixed and Matched into a Container)
$10 for 1/2 peck
$15 for peck
$20 for 1/2 bushel
A field access pass will be required to enter our picking areas. The all-day field access pass will allow you to enjoy fruit samples, unlimited rides to the picking areas, fresh farm air and lasting memories. Field access is $2/person. We do offer discount days. Monday* field access is free, Tuesday-Thursday field access is half price, just $1/person. On Labor Day + Columbus Day, field access will be $2/person. As always, children under 2 are free.
Tomatoes are a good source of vitamins A and C as well as potassium. Tomatoes can be eaten raw or cooked for a variety of dishes, including sauces, soups and stews. They also may be canned or frozen for future recipes.
Choose tomatoes with skins that are very red and have a firm flesh.
Tomatoes are stored best at room temperature, away from direct sunlight, and can be used within 1 week of ripening. Refrigeration of tomatoes is discouraged because cold temperatures result in a loss of flavor and a mushy flesh.
Pick-Your-Own Squash, Zucchini & Cucumber
Squash and Zucchini
Zucchini is a type of summer squash and is high in vitamin C.
Choose squash that are small, glossy, and tender—about 6 to 8 inches long and about 2 inches in diameter. The skins should be free of soft spots and cuts. Handle with care because squash bruises and scratches easily. Also, use caution and wear gloves when picking because the leaf stalks and stems are prickly and may scratch and irritate unprotected hands.
Fresh squash should be stored in the refrigerator for about 4 days. Wash when ready to use.
Eckert’s slicing cucumbers are a vine crop that are high in vitamin C.
Select cucumbers that are about 6 to 8 inches long, firm and with skins that are a consistent green. Avoid cucumbers that are yellow or dull in color.
Since cucumbers are more than 90 percent water, it is best store them wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or in a plastic bag to retain their moisture. Cucumbers may be store in the refrigerator for7 to 10 days.
We grow the following varieties:
Kale is a nutrient-dense, leafy green vegetable that is part of the cabbage family. Kale is rich in vitamins A and C and is a good source of calcium and iron.
Select kale that is dark green with small to medium leaves (about the size of an adult hand). Avoid brown or yellow and wilted leaves.
Wash and refrigerate or use immediately for recipes. Smaller, tender leaves can be eaten raw, uncooked in salads; larger leaves should be cut and cooked (remove the ribs before cooking). Kale may be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for about 1 week.
Pick-Your-Own Onions and Peppers
Onions are high in vitamin C and a good source of fiber.
Choose onions with tops that are about 6 inches tall and when the tops have begun to fall over. Gently pull from the ground to prevent bruising.
Spring onions may be placed on the counter top for a couple of days or may be placed in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. If using the tops, wrap them in a damp paper towel before refrigerating.
Eckert’s will offer bell (aristotle [red] and orange varieties), snacking (yummy mix variety) and hot (jalapeno variety) peppers.
Peppers should be harvested when they are firm and free of soft spots and wrinkles. They can be any size. When peppers are fully ripe, they will break easily from the plant. Red and orange bell peppers may be harvested immature and green or when they are fully mature at full color.
Jalapeno peppers can be harvested when red or green. Use caution and wear plastic or rubber gloves when handling jalapeno peppers and avoid contact with the eyes and nose and even shins because they can become painfully irritated.
All peppers may be placed on the counter top for a couple of days or may be placed in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days.
Yummy Mix Pepper
Pick-Your-Own Sweet Corn
Eckert’s sweet corn is bi-color (yellow and white) and a great source of vitamin C and fiber.
Choose ears with tassels that are brown and dry and kernels that are full. The cob should feel firm. To remove ears from the stalk, quickly and firmly pull them downward and twist.
Sweet corn is best when eaten, canned or frozen immediately after harvesting; it can be refrigerated with husks on just 1 to 2 days.
Beets are a good source of folate; the beet tops are great sources of vitamin A and their roots are a good source of vitamin C. Beet tops can be cooked or eaten fresh as greens and provide more nutrition than the roots. Roots can be pickled or cooked.
Choose beets with firm, smooth skins and leaves that have not wilted. Beets are best when harvested at 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter. Greens should be 6 inches or less.
Fresh beets may stored in plastic bags in the refrigerator for a week or longer. Trimming the tops offto about 1 inch above the roots helps keep beets fresher longer. Store the greens separately.