Parenting

Summer sanity saver: Berry picking

Week one of Jennifer’s activity jar experiment didn’t go according to plan.

Picking berries with your kids is a fun summer activity.

The day after we assembled our activity jar the kids excitedly got dressed, tidied their rooms and ate breakfast — all without bickering. They were so excited to see what the day would bring that our morning routine went smoothly — until it was time to pull out an activity.

Isaac pulled “play at a friend’s house”, which was all fine and well, until I called our friends. Every single family was away on vacation or their kids were in summer camp. This led to an epic meltdown by both children and me cursing the experiment. Gillian next pulled “pick berries” and instead of being excited to go out to our local berry farm, the kids pouted and protested (desperately wanting to invite their friends to the berry patch) while I gathered up our gear. Thankfully, the berry farm is only 10 minutes from our house and their moods dramatically improved when I pulled into the farm’s parking lot (as did mine — I was awfully sour too).

 
Fresh air, sun, a bouncy tractor ride to the field and bellies full of the best raspberries I’ve ever tasted saved the day.
 
Best tips for a “berry” good day at the patch
  • Call the farm ahead of time to make sure that the berries are ready. For example, strawberries in my area had a very short season and, by following the farm on Facebook, I avoided a couple of disappointed kids by finding out ahead of time that the berries were sold out
  • Pack sunscreen, hats and water. There will be no shade while you are picking.
  • Go early to avoid the heat. We left later than we should have and we were melting in the field.
  • Does your farm sell by the basket or weight? If they sell by weight, ask ahead of time roughly how much a basket will cost. I spoke with one family who were shocked to know they picked $134.00 worth of strawberries the previous year.
  • After being picked, fresh berries last less than 48 hours. A rinsing or spraying berries with citric acid-based product (I like Norwex FreshWash) helps preserve them a little bit longer.
  • If you plan on making jam, have your supplies already clean and ready to go. I prefer no-cook freezer jam because the kids can help alongside me. 
  • Looking to make big batches of jam? Sometimes my local farm sells flats of less-than-perfect berries at a lower price than “u-pick” or “pre-pick” that are perfect for jam.