Parenting is a Journey
An Adventure of Discovery Not Only of our Children But of Ourselves as Well
Teaching children to sustain the earth that they inherit comes along with eating local, seasonal foods. It is a teaching moment to take them somewhere near their homes where food is grown and allow them to see how much work goes into each bite they enjoy. Having a child go through the process of picking, washing, hulling, macerating and baking a strawberry pie really makes every bite count. I find my children are more apt to try a new food if they get to choose it, and that goes double if they get to pick it and help prepare it as well.
Having a backyard garden is a great idea, but not everyone has space or time for that. U-pick farms are a wonderful way to get fresh local produce with a learning experience built in. Customers go with baskets and buckets (some wheelbarrows are provided) and reach into the earth for their dinners. Kids can help with the low-hanging fruit and ground items like strawberries and beans. They will see how corn grows tall, how beans grow on their wily vines and how each meal eaten came from hard work, lots of water, weeding, plowing, sunshine and the extreme care of farmers within the community. The picked produce is warm from the sun and smells of the earth. It doesn’t get more authentic than that.
Many local U-pick farms have special dates and times where customers may come and pay by the pound to take home freshly picked produce. Oftentimes, these places will make an event of it and have a jam tasting or have fresh eggs and other items for sale as well.
It is also in poor taste and, in many cases, prohibited to “sample” the produce as it is picked. Farmers appreciate that families wait to weigh and purchase their bounties before eating. Most farms are also cash only.
Dogs and other pets are not permitted to come along on the adventure due to the need for food cleanliness and safety.
Lastly, as these are working farms where there is real and very expensive and dangerous farm equipment, most farms have strict policies against children exploring, playing, climbing trees, or climbing on tractors and trucks. If a branch of a fruit tree is broken by climbing children, this is a detriment to the farm’s livelihood.
Be sure to get sun hats for all and clothes to get dirty in. Pack a cooler with ice if traveling far with delicate produce. Make a game to see who can pick the most, or spot lady bugs while picking. Talk about colors, smells, flavors and recipes, and brainstorm ideas with the children to get them excited to eat the produce. Follow favorite farms on Facebook, or check them out on Yelp before going to see who has what. Always call or email to check who is open and when before making the drive. From Petaluma to Brentwood to Pescadero, here are just a few well-reviewed local U-pick farms, with many others to explore with a quick web search.
WHERE TO GO
3175 Sullivan Rd., Sebastopol
Annie’s Happy Farm
2017 Walnut Blvd., Brentwood
925-513-8495 • www.annieshappyfarm.com
Swanton Berry Farm
25 Swanton Rd., Davenport
Farmer’s Daughter Produce and
Northwest Corner of Walnut Blvd. & Marsh Creek Rd.,• Brentwood • 925-634-4827, www.farmersdaughter.farmvisit.com
Coastaways Ranch U-Pick
640 Hwy. 1, Pescadero • 831-469-8804 www.swantonberryfarm.com
4606 Suisun Valley Rd., Fairfield
Haley Reen is an East Bay-based freelance writer