In a past life, I worked at a daycare. In the summer, we were always looking for activities to keep the kids busy. One was a u-pick blueberry farm down the road.
It was one of my favorites. Not only because I always liked gardening and growing and eating blueberries (though there was that). It was more to watch how the kids reacted.
We would off load them from the van and then gather them in front of this little shack where the proprietor, Mr. Dauphin, would hand each child a bucket and show them the rows that had the ripest berries that day. Then we would turn them loose.
The first time we did this, I was surprised by their reaction. Most just stood there, confused.
We had to take them by the hand, show them the berries, and pick a few for them before they were confident enough to try on their own.
I remember one boy in particular.
“You mean we can just pick them off and eat them?” he asked.
“Yup, give it a try.”
He did. And then we couldn’t stop him. More blueberries went into his belly than in the bucket. Which was alright by us.
I’ll never forget what he said next. With a mouth full of juicy berries, he said, “I didn’t know blueberries came from plants.”
What a beautiful moment.
I think too many kids don’t know where food comes from and don’t know how amazing it is fresh. U-pick farms are a great way to introduce the idea that food is precious, requires work to grow, that it is better the closer you are to its source, and that a fresh berry has more flavor than any junk food.
U-picks mend a valuable connection between us and our food that broke a few decades ago, when we stopped needing home gardens and livestock to live. The convenience is great, but our appreciation and care for our food went with it I’m afraid.
Take your family to a u-pick. It gets everyone outside together and busy with their hands, minds, mouths, and hearts.
Is there anything better?