It’s become an annual tradition.
Each year, Guilford County asks for volunteers to come out to the Guilford County Farm – which used to be the Guilford County Prison Farm – and pick grapes for the benefit of local food banks.
The farm used to be under the control of the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department; however, now it falls under the purview of the Guilford County Parks Department, which is once again seeking volunteers to do some grape picking for a good cause.
The event is now called “The Big Pick” and it takes place every year at 7315 Howerton Road in Gibsonville.
Former Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes used to have inmates housed at the Prison Farm pick the grapes to make “Jailhouse Jelly” – which was sold in jars that featured a logo of a cartoon prisoner wearing black and white stripes. The words on the jar stated, “Grapes grown by inmates from the Guilford County Prison Farm.”
However, nearly a decade ago, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners voted to shut down the Prison Farm, and that meant the county needed someone to pick grapes.
Which is where you come in.
Now, each year, area volunteers pick the muscadine grapes grown on the 800-acre farm in eastern Guilford County
This year’s “Big Pick” will take place over two Saturdays – September 30 and October 7 – and it will run from 9 a.m. until noon each day. Volunteers of all ages are invited to join what the county is billing as a “fun and heartwarming effort to support local food banks and shelters.”
Guilford County Parks Supervisor John Gladstone said it’s for a very good cause and he encouraged everyone to come out.
“This event has become a beloved tradition in Guilford County, bringing together the community for a day of camaraderie and service,” Gladstone said this week. “Participants will have the unique opportunity to harvest grapes directly from the vineyards at the Farm. These grapes will then be donated to local food banks, shelters, and kitchens – ensuring that individuals and families in need have access to fresh foods.”
If you’re worried that your grape picking skills aren’t up to par, well, no prior experience is necessary.
According to county officials putting on the event, “Participants should dress comfortably for outdoor activities and wear closed-toe shoes. Sunscreen and hats are recommended.”
To register, you can visit: https://www.guilfordcountync.gov/Home/Components/Calendar/Event/4653/2141?backlist=%2four-county%2fcounty-parks
After Saturday, Oct. 7, area residents will be allowed to pick grapes from the vineyard for personal consumption.
You can follow the Guilford County Parks social media pages and get updates on the event at @guilfordcountyparks.