Those who long for a break from city life during the Lunar New Year holidays need not travel long distances because there are a number of tourist farms, including strawberry fields and orange orchards, located within Taipei City’s limits that offer a quick nature fix.
A dozen or so fruit farms and vegetable gardens can be found in the Neihu (內湖), Shihlin (士林) and Beitou (北投) districts.
Many of the farms and orchards have “pick-your-own” deals for strawberries, oranges, mushrooms and even carrots during the holidays.
A day trip to the fruit farms to pick fruit and enjoy the fresh air has become a popular activity for many people during the Lunar New Year holidays in recent years, said Lin Rong-shun (林榮順), a division chief at Taipei City Farmers’ Association.
Taipei’s strawberry fields are mostly centered around Bishan Road (碧山路) and Dahu Street (大湖街) in Neihu.
Most of the orange orchards are in the Shihlin and Beitou districts, while some fruit farms also offer picking of mushrooms and Chinese yams in the winter, he said.
Qing Xiang Tourist Orchard on Dahu Street in Neihu is one of the most famous fruit farms in the city, and features strawberries and oranges.
Orchard owner Hsu San-chi (?_) said his strawberries and oranges, grown on the hillside, tasted sweeter and were firmer in texture.
The farm’s mushrooms are grown on timber and such naturally grown mushrooms have more flavor, he said.
Warmer winter temperatures last year led to a 50 percent drop in strawberry and orange yields, so Hsu suggested would-be fruit pickers call the farms to check on conditions before leaving home.
The orchard’s phone number is 0928-539-948
Another strawberry grower, Lin Ching-li (林清立), runs the only organic fruit farm in the city.
His Grass and Fruits Organic Farm is located on Bishan Road and grows strawberries on a rack, rather than in the ground.
Organic strawberries are smaller than regular ones, but taste sweeter, Lin said.
Lin said his farm also suffered lower strawberry yields last year, and said people who want to visit the farm should call beforehand (2790-2706) and then come early in the day.
In Beitou’s Datunshan (大屯山) area, citrus tankans (a variety of orange) are ripe for picking around the Lunar New Year holidays.
Datun borough chief Chin Rong-hui (勤榮輝) said citrus tankans in Beitou are juicy with a slightly acidic flavor. The skins can be used to make pure essential oils, and the pulp can also be used to make products such as orange wine and jam, Chin said.
Lin said some tourist farms also teach visitors how to make fruit jams and desserts. Visitors can also taste homemade ice cream made using the fresh fruit from the farms.
The strawberry and orange farms in the city do not charge admission fees. The average price for strawberries is about NT$240 per 0.6kg while oranges cost NT$40 per 0.6kg, the association said.
More information on strawberry and orange farms can be found on the following Web sites: www.tfa.org.tw/doed/ebook//farm09.htm and www.tfa.org.tw/doed/ebook//farm10.htm.