Eating Local: A Lesson in Berry Picking

“Mom! Look at this one…it’s amazing!”

Ben holds up a beauty; it’s perfectly heart-shaped and a delicious shade of red. He pauses – perhaps contemplating munching it right then and there – and then gently places the strawberry in his shallow box.

In the next row, my daughter Erin is almost hidden from view as she lies on the ground looking for the “secret” strawberries growing underneath the large, soft leaves.

Strawberry season is short in my home state of Massachusetts, so when it does come around we try not to miss it. I love the time outdoors, the fact that my kids are getting exercise (and yes, getting a little dirty, too!) and the up-close lesson that our food is grown outside; it doesn’t magically appear on the table like a feast at Hogwarts.

But what I like best is the relaxed pace. We pick as much as we feel like. When Ben wants to stop and watch the red-tailed hawks circling overhead, he can. There’s no agenda other than being there.

Want to get your family in on the fun? Here’s how:

  • If you’re not sure if there’s a farm near you or what produce is available, check out crop calendars and farm locations by state at pickyourown.org.
  • Choose a farm that fits your window of time: How long do you plan to stay – an hour or several? If it’s the latter, look for a farm that offers other activities for kids like walking trails, hay rides or a petting zoo. That way, if they finish berry-picking quickly there’s still plenty to enjoy outside.
  • While picking, play a “guessing game” about what the berries need to grow.
  • Plan a dish around your freshly-picked bounty. Better yet, let the kids decide and help make it. What will they choose? Strawberry shortcake? Pie? Smoothies?

Happy picking!

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[Image: The author's son proudly displays the fruits of his labor. Image source: Kerry Crisley/TNC]

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Comments

  1. I clicked on this article thinking it would be about hunting for wild berries. Instead, it was just a recommendation to visit a pick-your-own strawberry farm (no word on whether it is organic or not! Hint: don’t allow your kids to eat conventional strawberries without washing them first.) Wild berries taste so much better than their domestic varieties, are healthier, and are probably more fun to find.

    Take your kids to a wild berry patch. It doesn’t even cost anything and they will be able to return all by themselves (provided a patch is nearby).

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