"Mom, the sky is so blue! It's magical out here mom. Can you see the berries yet?" she said excitedly as we drove out to the strawberry field. I have definitely passed down my love of gathering and picking nature's best off of various trees or from the ground.
We call it "picking season" at my house, which is just as important as football season to some around here. Everyone anticipates it, we talk about it, deciding what and where we are going to pick throughout the season. Each person seems to have their favorite. I love strawberries, Jack loves cherries, Lucy loves blueberries, Josiah loves apples, and the baby is happy to eat all of it from her backpack carrier.
Here are some tips we have collected over many a dreamy picking day.
1. Find the best place. Most farms and orchards allow children to pick but some do not. Pick Your Own is the best website to find out what is close to you and gather all the farm information you might need to know.
2. Go early or late. I have discovered going right when the farm opens or right before closing is the best time to go. It is usually cooler and not as crowded. It is also a nice time to chat with the farmers and learn more about the place you are picking. Most importantly, if you go in the morning you can get the best pickins'.
3. Don't stay too long. Now is not the time to pick 10lbs. of blueberries for your yearly jam making. Go back by yourself for that goodness. You will all have a better time if you don't have a big agenda and are in the moment together.
4. Bring the little extras. Freeze a water bottle to leave in the car which will melt to be nice and cold by the time you get back from the hard work of picking.
Don't forget sunscreen, bug spray and bandaids as someone always seems to trip or get a tiny cut.
5. Include kids in your after picking plans. Decide together what you might want to do with your bounty. Look for recipes and cook together. My kids made some crazy good shortcake a week ago that turned into many a learning lesson about science, math and baking. Kids will be more invested if they have a plan going in.
6. Be the fruit fairy. We often pack some extra ziplock bags or fold some paper boxes to put fruit in and deliver to friends after we are done. Sometimes we leave them on the doorstep and ding dong ditch or take a minute to give them to neighbors and chat. It's always fun for the kids and is a lovely way to teach kids about sharing while building community.
Do you like to go picking with your family? What tips do you have for picking adventures? We'd love to know.