Spring is one of my favorite times of year. Yes, I love the flowers, the warm(er) weather, the smells of fresh blooms, and the idea of being outside all day, but the reason that I really love spring is that it brings us closer to “pick-your-own” season! Ever since I was little, I have been picking my own strawberries. My mom used to take me to Shadybrook Farm in Newtown where I would spend hours in the field picking some and indulging on many. As I got older she would bring my friends too, and we would pick TONS of strawberries. We ate them all fresh.
Ever since my daughter was born, we have started the same tradition. We go every year. I choose a local orchard and we go wild. Not only do we pick MORE than enough to eat fresh, but we freeze them and make strawberry jam as well. Now we get requests to share so the amount we pick grows every year. Last year we picked multiple times! We are lucky because after strawberry season comes to a close, there is still blueberry, raspberry, peach, apricot, blackberry, cherry, and apple season ahead!
There are many reasons that I think everyone should pick-your-own fruits if you have the ability, but below are my top 5!
5 Reasons to Pick Your Own Fruit with Your Kids
- Freshness – Fruit, just like veggies, stays fresh much longer when picked by you. It reduces the amount of time that it is in a produce section or on a truck. The next best thing is fruit that is at a farmer’s market or bought locally.
- Fun – Your kids (and you) will SO enjoy this activity. Being outside, trying to find the perfect fruits is exciting to them. Not to mention all of the berries that will be smashed all over their faces by the end. The farmer at our local orchard always says that is how you know they had a good time!
- Health – By choosing the farm that you pick from, you are aware of where your food is grown. You can talk with the farm and find out whether they spray with harmful chemicals, how they farm, are they organic, do they practice IPM (integrated pest management)?. You are in control of the type of food that you put in your mouth. Preserving also cuts back on the amount of processed food that you are eating.
- Local Sustainability – Support your local farms and farmers! When you buy food locally, you help to keep those “small” farmers providing you with quality foods in business. It is difficult for them to compete with the “big guys”. Consider buying local for all of the fruits and veggies that your local area can produce. Build a connection with your local farms and teach your children about their importance too!
- Frugality – Picking your own fruits and veggies saves you money, especially if you are buying organic. Before you go out, check the price per pound cost and you can see for yourself. Many orchards also have a frequent picking card where you can get a discount for a small free upfront for the card. Preserving also saves money on the other products like jam and frozen fruit that you can use your pickings for.
When you come home from your first adventure, preserve or freeze some of your treasures! We usually pick around 20-25 pounds of strawberries when we go, so that leaves more than enough for eating too. 🙂
Not sure whether you have a Pick-Your-Own farm around you? No worries…check out PickYourOwn.org to see where the closest farm to you is. It is also a great website for recipes and canning instructions for all of these wonderful fruits that you will be coming home with!