I try to raise my children to appreciate nature. We take them on hikes in the woods and teach them about the animals and plants that live there. We go during all seasons in order to show them how nature responds to each season. And they love it!
I have pictures of my husband and son walking through the fall leaves. My son is still learning to walk and he was loving crunching through the leaves with daddy's help.
I have photos of my daughter throwing leaves into the air with a huge smile on her face. She was four years old at the time and loving every minute of it.
There are pictures of my son running through the woods in the middle of winter, stomping on the ice as he went. These are special to me as he had just started to run and chase his big sister and I loved seeing him express this new skill.
Nature and my family are both important to me. So, blending them together is important as well.
This is one of the biggest reasons I started growing a garden. I love to teach my children about the plants growing and enjoy the delicious rewards of our labors.
But before we ventured into the world of gardening, we became regulars at pick your own farms.
These farms go by many names, but I know them best as You Pick (U-Pick) or Pick Your Own farms. These farms give you the opportunity to go into the field and pick as much as you wish of their fruits or vegetables. They will charge you by the pound for what you pick. It is wise to bring your own containers for picking though, as many places will charge you for containers (if they have any at all).
First, a word of warning. There are farms that allow you to pick your own produce for a discounted rate vs. what you would pay per pound to buy the same produce from their stand. Then there are commercialized pick your own farms. These are "entertainment" venues more than farms and frequently requires you to purchase tickets for a tractor ride to the picking spots and then charge you full price for the items that you pick. While these trips are fun, they are not budget friendly.
Unless I am taking the kids for a special treat, we go to the discount pick your own farms - mostly for picking fruit. I pick enough at a discount for snacking as well as freezing and canning to eat over the winter. There are three farms locally that I pick at.
The first farm opens in June and this is where I pick my strawberries. My daughter and I have a grand time picking 10 pounds or more at a time. My son wanders the field and eats about a pound or so before we are done picking! But we all have a blast and love the strawberry shortcakes, strawberry and mixed berry jam, and smoothies we make from these beautiful berries.
Once strawberry season is over, we move on to cherry picking at my favorite farm. This farm does not open until cherry season, which is middle to late June, and once it does you can guarantee we will be there once a week all summer long. The cherries were fantastic - you should have seen my son's face when we were done, cherry juice everywhere!
Once cherries are over, we'll begin picking blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, grapes, pears, and apples at this farm. Delicious fruits all summer long - my kids are already asking when picking season starts because they cannot wait to get in those orchards and get their hands on fresh summer fruits. We all have a blast.
Our final farm we reserve for peaches. They have the most fantastic, juicy peaches ever and it doesn't hurt that it's on the property of a winery - my kids get peaches, I get wine. What could be better?
With the warm spring weather and preparing my garden, I am not only dreaming of the vegetables I will produce. I am dreaming of warm summer days spent picking, canning and eating delicious fruits followed by a dip in the pool to cool off after a long day's work in the field.
It's going to be a great summer!
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