There aren’t a lot of openings for volunteer grape pickers right now, but, for all those frustrated grape pickers in and around Guilford County, now’s your chance. Guilford County Parks is putting on the annual “Big Pick” at the Guilford County Farm at 7315 Howerton Road in Gibsonville.
It used to be that the site was the Guilford County Prison Farm and inmates would pick the grapes. However, about seven years ago the county closed the detention center on the 806 acres of county-owned farmland in eastern Guilford County and western Alamance County. Now volunteers are needed each year.
This year, the Big Pick event will take place on two Saturdays – Sept. 25 and Oct. 3 – from 9 a.m. to noon.
Everyone is invited to attend but minors have to be accompanied by an adult. Registration is required prior to the event.
Guilford County Parks Supervisor John Gladstone said the event should be more fun than work and added that it’s for a good cause.
“The Big Pick is an opportunity to give back in a fun and safe way,” Gladstone said. “We do our best to get as many of those grapes to those in our community who could use a little extra sweetness in their lives.”
Also, if you eat a few grapes while picking them, probably no one will mind.
The County Farm’s muscadine vineyard produces thousands of pounds of grapes every year. After those grapes are harvested, they’re donated to local food banks, shelters and kitchens that are set up for people in need.
Parks officials say it provides the diners with a “delicious” treat.
The 3-acre vineyard has 18 rows of red muscadine vines.
The grapes at the county farm are grown specifically to give back to the community.
Back when there were inmates working and living at the farm, the grapes and other produce were used in meals for the inmates and the detention officers – and to make jailhouse jam for sale to the public. The high-quality diet at the former Prison Farm was one reason inmates in the jails wanted to get transferred to the farm – even though it meant working each day.
According to county parks officials, all volunteers should bring a water bottle, protection from the sun and footwear meant for walking in fields. Also, gloves are recommended.
Volunteers will need to wear a face mask when working in close contact with others.
For more information – or to go ahead and register – interested grape pickers can check out visit https://www.guilfordcountync.gov/big-pick- register.
Larger groups interested in volunteering should contact John Gladstone by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.