Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pick Your Own

Saving Money Tip #141 - Pick Your Own. One of the best things about spring and summer weather is all of the delicious local fruits and vegetables that are available. In addition to the least impact on the environment from buying local fruits and veggies, the taste cannot be compared. It’s like comparing homemade macaroni and cheese to that in a box. The tastes just dance on your tongue. Having said all that, some supermarkets carry local fruits and vegetables and will often have them labeled as such. There are also often farmer’s markets in the area where you can buy them. Some people belong to a co-op, getting fresh fruits and vegetables on a regular basis.

You can do all of the above and enjoy the summer eating. But unless you have a large garden or farm yourself, nothing beats going to a farm and picking pounds and pounds of fresh fruit yourself. Depending on where you live, there may be a plethora of Pick-Your-Own farms nearby or there may be very few. But even if they are far away, it is worth it to go at least once per season to experience the joy of picking your own fruit. Besides a day of fun in the sunshine, a bit of exercise, and the final product you get to take home, it is an educational experience for both children and adults alike.

It’s especially important to teach children that strawberries grow low on the ground, apples and peaches high in the trees, and berries in bushes. Many children probably have no concept of where fruit comes from or how it gets to the grocery store. What a fun way for them to learn. And now the fun part – finding a Pick-Your-Own Farm near your home that you can spend a few hours or a full day at. Check out this list of farms for one near you. They keep it pretty up-to-date, but it always makes sense to call the farm or check out their website ahead of time: Pick Your Own .

In Real Life (IRL) – I’ve mentioned Pick Your Own Farms in the past as a valuable and inexpensive activity to do with children. But I don’t think I went into detail of our experiences. The first time I did a Pick-Your-Own was before I had children. My husband and I picked strawberries in a nearby farm. The cost was comparable or perhaps a bit less than the supermarket’s summer prices, but the taste was so much better. In addition, we had a fun day. When our children were old enough, we included them in the experience. We have picked strawberries, blackberries, apples, peaches, and blueberries.

Our day at the farm never fails to entertain our children. We’ve been to several different ones – each with different amenities. Some are elaborate with their own farm stores. Some offer hayrides and apple cider. Others are simple with nothing but some ladders and buckets to pick. But each time we come away feeling closer to nature. And my children learn a bit about the growing cycle and where fruits come from. They enjoy eating, literally, the fruits of their labor. And the pies and crisps that come from our stash aren’t too bad either. And as far as saving money? We often freeze the extras that we pick to be eaten in the winter when prices of summer fruits are sky-high. Check out a pick your own farm near you. If your experience is like ours, you won’t be disappointed. For other food ideas check out Tasty Tuesday.

1 comment:

Meredith@MerchantShips said...

We are trying a blueberry farm this season. However, most of the farms are over an hour away and my kids will have to wait till they're older (and Mom has more patience) for that!