One of my favorite spring activities is going to pick fresh berries and fruits. We are lucky that fruit picking season has started in Florida and we are enjoying the bounties with strawberries, peaches and blueberries!
Here are a few tips we follow when heading out to U-pick farms:
1. Do your research: visit organic or sustainable farms.
Many farms use pesticides that linger on leaves, the soil and the fruits. It’s unhealthy for all of us, especially little ones.
My little ones walk around picking fields eating, so you want to make sure the fruits are free from harmful pesticides and chemicals.
Call the farm you plan on visiting and ask questions about their growing methods.
2. Find out prices ahead of time.
Some u-picks have an additional charge just to go out on their fields or a charge per bucket. Visit a farm that does not charge to pick your fruits and enjoy more fruits for the money you spend.
3. Wear closed toes shoes, socks, sunscreen and hats.
With the onset of warmer weather our flip flops and sandals are peaking through our closet doors but, for this activity, closed toed shoes and socks are best to protect our feet from twigs and bugs on the dirt. We wear hats and sunscreen to protect us from the sun. The fruits and veggies need lots of sun to grow, so you will be walking in the sun the entire time you are picking fruit.
4. Pack water bottles for the whole family.
In fields it does get hot as these trees need full sun, which means you will be in the full sun. I pack a cooler to keep the water cool in the car. We also have insulated packs we each carry for our waters.
5. Set a limit on how much to pick!
Decide how much you want to bring home and pick only what you want to bring home, so the food does not spoil. Over picking is easy at a U-pick and it’s fun but remember you have to pay for it and bring it home. I usually tell my kids they can each fill their bucket about a quarter of the way up. I don’t pick, instead I help them choose fruits that are ripe and good for picking. Make sure they are not picking over-ripe or bruised fruits. With three kids this system works out well.
6. Pack snacks and lunch.
Walking around the fields and exploring a new farm will make everyone hungry! I pack a cooler that stays in the car with snacks and sandwiches. We try and pair our U-pick visits with several farms in the area or a new park and make it a day adventure enjoying the outdoors and sunshine!
7. Have a plan for the fruits you pick!
We always plan on freezing half the fruits. They are such a good price when we pick our fruits, in season, that I do over pick (a little) and freeze. We later use those fruits for smoothies, oatmeal toppings, ice cream, frozen pops and so much more!
We usually plan a smoothie and a dessert. Desserts are fun because cooking the fruits changes the flavor and texture and use a lot of your fruits! Fun desserts, such as pies and cobblers are great! We make these with just the fresh fruit, cinnamon vanilla and an oatmeal topping.
Talk with your kids about how they want to use the fruits and get them in the kitchen working with you. Eat as much fresh within a few days and store the fruit in your fridge so it lasts longer.
8. Take lots and lots of pictures!