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Maddie Died and Went to Strawberry Heaven

May 21, 2010

I may have mentioned before that Maddie is a wee bit fond of strawberries. She likes them diced in small pieces which she can easily pick up. She can eat a whole quart by herself during the course of the day as long as the bite-sized pieces keep coming. It can be hard to keep her supplied in berries when the farmers market sells them for 4 dollars a half quart.

So the other day Maddie and I headed up north to a farm out in the beautiful country. I called first and made sure they were open, then we preceded out the door and down the road. This farm is about an hour north of us, but the journey was gorgeous. Clear skies and low humidity made the drive through the countryside so relaxing. All too soon, we passed the farm’s U-Pick sign, and we knew we were on the right track.

We arrived, collected our basket, and headed for the fields. The smell of ripe strawberries as we made walked through was simply intoxicating in the warm air. Maddie asked to carry the basket, so I obliged. She loves to carry shopping baskets when we’re yarn hunting, so I knew she could handle it. I knelt down, picked a couple ruby red fruits, then plopped them into the basket. Maddie quickly swooped one up and into her mouth. By the time I had another small handful, she had polished off the berries she was carrying.

At that point I knew I was alone in my picking. I took the basket back and picked up the pace–I wanted to fill up the whole basket before we both got sunburned. At first I was leery that Maddie would be a handful with little to do–after all, her favorite thing to do outside is walk away from me. She was fine however. She quickly figured out what was going on and was soon picking berries for herself. I’m not sure how many she ate, but by the end of the trip she was a brilliant shade of red and quite sticky. Alas, I got no pictures.

We paid for our basket (and purchased a few more as well) for jam and for freezing. Maddie was quite content to snuggle back in her carseat for the long trek home.

All in all, we purchased 3 gallons for $28, which I estimate to be about 15 pounds. So not bad for 30 minutes of work. The berries are amazingly sweet and so full of flavor. Anything in the grocery store just doesn’t even compare. I’m hoping to use these for smoothies and muffins, but I’m not sure how long they will last us with my little berry fiend.

I’m so glad that I have the resources to be able to take Maddie out and see the countryside, and learn where her food comes from. I can’t wait until she can understand the importance of locally grown food. I feel that it’s so important for kids to realize that food comes from farms, not the grocery store. Food that is freshly picked is far healthier and tastes so much better–plus, the experience of picking your own food is so much fun. I also love that I am able to support a local farmer.

Now that summer is swiftly approaching, I’m hoping to go peach or blackberry picking when their seasons come. Maddie loves peaches too, so I bet she can’t wait!

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