This past weekend we piled into the car for a journey to Lawrence Farms Orchard to pick our own strawberries, snap peas and greens! I’ve been wanting to do this for awhile and though it was a long drive, it was an awesome experience.
Connecting with where your food actually comes from is so important on so many levels. So often we forget that the produce we pick up at the supermarket was grown at a farm, by a farmer. Even if you buy your produce at your local farmers’ market, you might not think about the acres and acres of farm land that is so lovingly tended by a team of farmers who work relentlessly to bring fresh fruits and vegetables to your area.
Visiting your local u-pick farm is also a great way to learn about what is local to your area during the various seasons. Eating locally is important for the local economy and for the planet. And eating what’s in season is important for your taste buds! A strawberry picked from a local, smaller scale farm is so much more dynamic than what you’ll find at the grocery store. It’s sweeter, juicier, more tender and bright. It’s just fantastic. It’s the same with most of the produce that you can get at a local farm. Even the snap peas that we picked tasted so much cleaner, crisper and sweeter than the ones I am constantly picking up at the grocery store. If we had a farm a bit closer to home, I’m sure I’d be there a couple of times a week.
We picked about 3 pounds of strawberries, 3 or 4 pounds of snap peas and 5 or so heads of various types of lettuce, plus a bunch of spinach. We would have happily picked more. We could have stayed all day and picked, but you can only eat so much before it starts to go bad and I didn’t want to waste even an ounce of this gorgeous hand picked produce. We brought home so much lettuce (Andrew really enjoyed picking the lettuce) that I’m still not sure we’ll eat it all, despite my giant daily salads. Plus, we had our weekly farmers’ market visit the following day to pick up apples, cherries, radishes and other things.
The boys were pretty excited about picking strawberries. They’re a favorite to them both. The boys have both been apple picking before, but I really wanted them to experience the picking of the of the smaller fruits and veggies on the farm. The things that would require them to get up close and personal with the plants and the dirt and the critters. I wanted them to really connect with their food. And I think it went really well. At first they said that there weren’t a lot of strawberries on the bushes but once I showed them what’s under the leaves that you can’t see unless you get in there, they went to town getting down into the plants and searching out the most beautiful of strawberries and seeing who could find the biggest ones (taste testing plenty along the way).
I was particularly excited about the snap peas. Snap peas are something I eat almost daily. They’ve actually replaced a pretty serious chip habit I had not too long ago. When we had finished picking, I looked at the carton of snap peas we’d picked and started to feel a bit anxious about the amount we had. I wasn’t sure we’d be able to eat it all before they started to turn. And while I could blanch and freeze them, it just didn’t feel right to not enjoy the fresh raw sweetness of the snap peas. My fears were put to rest yesterday, when I finished the gallon sized zip lock bag that they filled. And now I’m kinda sad to say, they’re all gone. We ate them all. Well, I probably ate them all.
Once we were done picking we had few minutes left before the farm closed, so we visited the horses. They were so beautiful. They were huge. I’ve been around horses plenty of times in my life, but for some reason these particular horses seemed just gigantic. But they were sweet and friendly and allowed us to pet them.
It was a really fantastic day and we’re already talking about going back to the farm, or another farm, next month to pick another bounty of beautiful, fresh fruits and veggies.
If you have the opportunity to visit a u-pick farm near you, do it. It’s an incredible experience. An experience that I think might be critical to us improving the food systems in this country. The more people connect with their food sources, the more mindful they’re likely to be about their food choices. And that can make an impact bigger than any of us can likely imagine.
To find a u-pick farm near you can visit this website.