Few activities enable kids to connect with a new place as well as foraging for produce at U-Pick farms.
The endeavor includes the thrill of the hunt, the immediate satisfaction of watching as your baskets empty, and the delayed happiness of sampling as you go. Also, it’s damn fun. Even under the blazing sun.
Over the course of our travels, we’ve U-Picked in some pretty spectacular places: Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Alaska. Hawaii. Southern California. These days, Powerwoman and I try to find U-Pick farms near our home because we feel the experience is a great way to interact with other locals and get the kids to connect with our local environment.
This past weekend, we hit up a U-Pick program near our house: The one at Shone Farm in Santa Rosa.
Technically, at least on this day, the U-Pick was part of a Fall Festival designed to get people to the property and buy some produce. The kids didn’t care what it was. They had a blast.
And who can blame them? After getting their faces painted by the front gate, R and L headed into a pumpkin patch to select their own pumpkins, which I cut right off the vine. From there we ventured into different U-Pick territories: beans, tomatoes, and, eventually, strawberries.
Of course this was the main attraction. Each girl took a square plastic pint box and set out to pick ripe strawberries right off the plants. Most of the good ones—those that R didn’t eat—ended up safely in their pint boxes. All others were either left on the plants or tossed aside.
Calling my kids strawberry-obsessed for the latter part of the afternoon would have been an understatement. Between the two of them, they must have eaten 200 strawberries in a five-minute period. They also rose to the challenge of spreading out to maximize coverage; each of the girls brought in quite a bounty.
What’s more, their “hunt,” as L called it, was a riveting topic of discussion for most of the drive home. They debriefed on strategies. They shared best-practices. They lamented the “icky mud” that seemed to get everywhere.
My kids were so wrapped up in recapping their U-Pick experiences that neither of them even realized it when, after the 20-minute drive, we returned to the house.
The takeaway: When it comes to nature, simply getting the kids out will create a lasting impression.
(Of course this time around we also got the benefit of berries. If those aren’t adequate representatives of the “fruits of your labor,” I’m not sure what is or what will be.)
Where are some of the most exotic places you’ve U-picked?