Not everyone has the ability to keep up a full-on garden over the summer. However, this doesn’t mean you and your family have to be totally separated from the places your food comes from! Western New York is rife with U-Pick orchards, hosted by local farms looking to benefit from agritourism. Spending a day outside picking fruit is a great way to connect with nature and learn about the process of food traveling from farm to table. Whether you pick red raspberries or peaches, there are plenty of things you can do with the fruit you pick, and plenty of lessons to be learned in the process!
Picking Ain’t Easy
While fruits may seem easy to pick, every fruit has its own flair for picking. Before heading out into the orchard, make sure you check with a farm employee on the best way to collect your harvest. Talk to your child about the importance of not injuring the bushes or trees that yield the fruit, and make sure to provide plenty of guided picking opportunities before letting them loose.
Talk It Out
While your picking, have a conversation with your child! What are the benefits of eating local food? What kind of history do these foods have in our area? Your conversations can encompass everything from history and politics to science, art, and literature.
Too Much is Never Enough
The low prices of most U-Pick farms are very appealing, and you may find the hours slip by easily and you’re left with tons of fruit. While it may be impossible to eat twenty quarts of strawberries before they rot, there are other ways to make the best of your bumper crop! Why not try making jam as a family? The process may initially seem daunting, but as long as you follow a recipe and dedicate a solid few hours to the proceedings, you’ll be just fine! You can make jam out of just about anything, as evidenced by our family’s rhubarb and cherry blend jam. If jam isn’t quite your thing, try baking! Whether it’s a pie or a bread, you can freeze most of your baked goods and save them for later. This can spark a great conversation with your child about how food storing practices have changed with new technologies.
Hopefully you and your family will be able to enjoy the summer weather and get out into some of Western New York’s beautiful family farms for some education and delicious locally grown fruit! What is your favorite thing to pick this time of year?