We have had the pleasure of enjoying local u-pick farms for the first time this summer. We picked blueberries back in July and peaches and apricots a few weekends ago. There is something so fun about going to where the fruit is actually grown, picking it yourself and bringing it home to enjoy. I think sometimes we get so detached from where food actually comes from – we just go and pick up whatever we need at the “big-box” supermarket, and forget that real food is grown on trees and bushes, and produced by the land. Stephanie at Keeper of the Home wrote this great post about teaching our kids where food come from. It’s so amazing to experience God’s creation and enjoy the yummy food He has provided for us. I strongly believe in supporting local farmers and local agriculture. Food that is grown by local family farms often do not have the chemicals and pesticides that mass grown produce may have. It may not be certified organic, but less chemicals and pesticides are good for the environment and good for your health. Also, when you buy locally, the food doesn’t have to be transported across the country (or from around the world!) so less pollution is created in getting your food from where it is grown to your home to be eaten and enjoyed.
We picked about 8 lbs. of blueberries (not a whole lot, but it was really hot that day and we had K and B with us), we froze about 5 lbs. of them and ate the rest in muffins, pancakes and just by the handful! We picked 18 lbs. of peaches and 4 lbs. of apricots, plus we got about another 4 lbs. of apricots for free because someone had picked them the day before and left them out in the field, so they let us pick out the ones that were still good to take home and use. We froze most of the peaches and made apricot freezer jam and apricot baby food for Brenden. I also tried to make dried apricots, but that didn’t turn out so well.
In past summers, I have always wanted to take advantage of local u-pick produce, but never really knew how to find places to go. I wanted to pass along these two resources for finding u-pick farms. For those that live in our area, Michiana Green Pages is a great guide for local green businesses, including local produce and u-pick farms. Also Local Harvest is a website that lists local farms, CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture), farmer’s markets, etc. It is also a great resource for supporting local farmers and buying local produce.
The other great thing about going to u-pick farms is that it is usually cheaper than buying produce at the supermarket or farmer’s market, and the quality of the produce is MUCH better than what you would get at the grocery store. Plus you can get a lot at one time, to have some to eat right away (Yum!) and have some to preserve and eat later. It’s also just great, quality family time to get outside and do something fun and productive together! We are still hoping to pick raspberries at my parent’s house for yummy pies and to freeze for smoothies, and also to go apple picking this fall. I am planning to make u-pick farms one of our family’s summer-time traditions!