It’s u-pick season in the Midwest. Farms open up their fields to visitors and allow families to pick fresh fruit as it comes into season.
There are many benefits to picking fruit at a u-pick farm.
Fruit picked off a tree, bush, or vine taste incredibly sweet. It’s truly a wonder and unlike anything you can find at a grocery store.
Picking fresh fruit yourself is also economical.
Fresh strawberries and blueberries are about $2 per pound – cherries are just over $1.
Picking fresh fruit also helps our local economy and supports a family farmer.
As wonderful as all of that is, to me, the best benefit comes when I take my children with me to the u-pick farms.
By taking my children, I’m able to show them an appreciation for God and his creation. In turn it gives them a deeper understanding of why it’s so important to grow our own and cook real food.
By going as a family to a u-pick farm it will give you a great opportunity for your entire family to learn some important life lessons.
Life Lesson #1: God Created The Earth and Everything In It
As an adult, it still blows my mind to see vegetables and fruit growing on a plant. I mean, really, it’s amazing!
Witnessing huge vegetables grow on a plant that I’ve started from a tiny seed is a miracle. Fresh fruit that tastes incredible and ready for the picking on trees, bushes, and vines can only have come from a God that had a plan.
To explain this to a child and see their eyes light up as they try to correlate a God that loves us and continues to care for us is breathtaking.
That is absolutely the best part about going to u-pick farms. Being able to share that glory with my children and have us rejoice in his holy name as we walk through His fields and pick to our hearts delight.
Life Lesson #2: Patience
As a family, both parents and children will learn about patience.
Parents, be aware. There will be whining and there will be potty breaks needed. Be patient and have fun with your children. Enjoy the time.
Here are some tips to make the best of your u-pick outing.
- Leave early. The sooner the better as the temps will be cooler. You can get in and out.
- Take water with you. Your kids will appreciate a swig of cool water while picking berries.
- Don’t go with expectations of gathering enough berries to preserve for the entire winter. In my experience, children between the ages of 2-5 can tolerate 30 minutes to an hour. Children of the ages 6 and over can tolerate a good hour or more.
- Take pictures. Pictures are a great tool to teach your children later on about the seasons in which God gives us food.
For children, they’ll also learn about patience. It takes time to fill a bucket of berries; however, seeing a full bucket makes a child super happy. Share with them the rewards of a full bucket. Pie, jam, etc…
Life Lesson #3: Good Things Come with Hard Work
It’s important for both adults and children to know that good things in life don’t come free. After all, we are still living out the curse from Adam and Eve.
For me and mine, it’s an important life long lesson that with hard work comes fruit from ones labor.
Life Lesson #4: Fruit Grows in Seasons So We Need To Enjoy It As He Gives It To Us
This life lesson can have so many meanings. I’ll share a couple that are important to me.
First, for children going to u-pick farms, it’s a great way to teach them about the changing seasons. It allows them to understand that we can’t eat fresh berries all year long since they only grow once a year.
Since we visit the u-pick farms various times a year as a family they can visually see that the strawberry plants no longer have berries. Or that the blueberry bushes are barren. It’s a great opportunity to show your children God’s plan and make it real in their lives.
Second, for adults going to u-pick farms, it’s a way for you to enjoy your children.
They are ever growing and our season of children will soon be over. It’s a great way to laugh and have fun with them as you capture in memory special moments and sweet sayings.
Life Lesson #5: Picking at U-Pick Farms is a Great Way to Get Your Children Excited About Cooking
While picking fruit, my boys and I are constantly talking about what we’re going to cook with our harvest. Picking fruit and growing vegetables makes children excited to cook at home.
At the end it all comes full circle and as a family we get to enjoy the fruits of our labor.
As a special treat for you below is a recipe for cherry vanilla jam made with tart sour cherries that the boys picked all by themselves.
A scrumptious cherry-vanilla jam made from sour cherries picked at a u-pick farm.
- 4 cups mashed sour cherries
- 2 tsp pectin powder (included in Pamona’s Universal Pectin)
- 2 tsp calcium solution (included in Pamona’s Universal Pectin)
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup local raw honey
- 5 1/2 pint canning jars with lids and bands
- Water Bath for Canning
- Stir pectin into the honey until completely mixed.
- Combine the mashed cherries, vanilla extract, and calcium solution in a pan and bring to a boil.
- Stir in the pectin-honey mixture and return to a boil; stir vigorously for 1-2 minutes.
- Check firmness with a jelly test
- Ladle into jars and seal in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.
Other links of interest:
- Preserving Blueberries and A Blueberry Jam Recipe
- All About Pectin and Naturally Sweetening Your Jam or Jelly
- Urban U-Pick Farms – FREE Fruit
- The Treasures of Picking Your Own at U-Pick Farms
Have you been to a local u-pick farm this year? Please share what you’ve made with the fruits of your labor.