Since we have been doing a little gardening this spring, my little guy has been very interested in plants and amazed that food actually grows out of them. We go out and water our little garden of tomatoes, squash, zucchini and watermelons and he gets so excited when we get a new bud or a small vegetable starts sprouting out. The other night, as we were eating some strawberries, he asked about the strawberry "tree." He had it in his mind that strawberries, like apples, grew on big trees. Since we live in central Florida, home of the Strawberry Festival and tons of strawberry farms, I did a little research to find an organic strawberry farm in our area where we could pick our own berries. I came across Jordan Farms in Dover, a wonderful farm that grows many organic vegetables, as well as strawberries. A few days later, we headed out to the farm. It was about a 40 minute drive, but it was so worth it! There are not many activities that my teeneager and preschooler both like to do together, so when they both were excited about the trip, it was like a festivus miracle!
When we first got to the farm, we talked to the owner for a bit and I learned that she grew 3 different varieties of strawberries. I didn't even know there was more than one. She had Radiants and Festivals, which are both Florida varieties and Camino Reals, a California variety. As we were picking and tasting, I could tell that the different varieties also had different tastes and looks. The Camino reals were dark red and very sweet, and the Radiants were glossy red and not quite as sweet as the Camino reals, but still juicy and sweet and larger than the Festival strawberries. We brought water jugs with us that I had cut the top off to put our strawberries in as we picked. My kids had so much fun picking and tasting the fruit. I think my son ate half a gallon while we were picking!
We talked about how the strawberries grow and looked at the strawberry blossoms. He understood then how the strawberries grow on small plants and not on big trees. We picked strawberries for almost two hours and my kiddos hunted for the biggest and juiciest ones together.
There were other things my little guy was intrigued with, too. They had an old truck that was sitting at the front of the farm that he loved and told me it was Mater. He also liked looking at the old tractors and farming equipment. The other vegetables weren't quite ready for picking yet, but we still looked at the plants and he did pick a sweet onion that was growing in with the strawberries. Hopefully we can go back in a couple of weeks for the other vegetables.
This was such a great learning experience for my kiddos (and me)! There is something so refreshing about knowing where the food you consume comes from and that it is being grown organically and for kids to be able to look beyond the grocery store and see how their food is actually grown and produced. I also love to support our wonderful local farmers whenever possible and we got three gallons of strawberries for only $6.00! We've been putting strawberries in everything! Here is a link to a full directory that shows where you can pick your own produce. Organic blueberry picking is next on our list!