10 Tips For Picking Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Locally

Headed to a pick-your-own farm?

Here are 10 simple tips featuring the Moms from the Best Blogs for Local Fun:

1) Call Before You Go. Amy from Atlanta with Kid has a tip that everyone needs to know, no matter where you plan to go fruit picking. She says: "Before packing the kids and heading out to the farm, it’s best to call them in advance (on that day). Because you will never know if they are closed that day or if there is any change in their crops."

2) Savor the Moment. Sandra from Albany Kid recalls "One of my fondest childhood memories is a visit to a strawberry field in Maryland with my friend Ann." Even as an adult, Sandra holds these memories dear, and hopefully, your kids will too!

3) Do a Little Research. I wish I would have read this post by Annie, from KidList, before we went strawberry picking.  Her post is full of helpful information for anyone thinking about strawberry picking with kids. I had no idea that "strawberries keep better if you pick them with the cap and stem on. Pull the strawberry at the stem with a slight twist and it should come off with the cap and stem." Next year, I'm going to teach my kids this trick.

4) The Closer The Better. Jennifer and Stephenie from Rocket City Mom remind us that "The very best way to feed our families fresh food is to shop local." If you live near a farm, try to buy from them as often as possible. It's better for everyone.

5) Pack a Lunch. Heidi at Free Fun in Austin tells us all about her adventure, Strawberry Picking at Sweet Berry Farm. She always keeps a close eye on the budget, and although it's not always do-able, she knows that packing your own lunch can save a lot of money when you're on a local family adventure.

6) Give the Kids A Box or Basket They Can Fill. Linda from Kid Friendly DC had a wonderful time picking strawberries recently.  She said "the berries were just as abundant as they gorgeous." Sometimes, kids can get carried away, and if you give them a huge basket, they might just fill it.  When we went strawberry picking, I gave each of my boys a quart container that they could fill themselves. This helped ensure we didn't leave with too many or too few berries. 

7) Consider Joining a CSA. The moms at Louisville Family Fun mention another great alternative to 'Pick Your Own' farms.  More and more communities around the country have a CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture programs.) If you're not familiar with CSAs, basically, at the start of a season, you sign up for a share and pay the farm a fee. Then, the farmer supplies you with a certain amount of fresh produce for a set number of weeks during the season. I've heard of some CSA's that require a set # of hours spent volunteering on the farm.  And, you know what that means... a great opportunity to pick your own!

8) Expect the Unexpected. There's a whole list of "Things to Know Before You Go" in Jen's post over at Pensacola Kid. Three important things you don't want to forget: 1) Cash, 2) Sunscreen and 3) a Cooler.

9) Don't Forget Your Camera. The natural beauty of Orchards and Farms creates the perfect backdrop for family photos.  You'll want to remember the moments when your kids put the basket on their heads, or had strawberry smeared across their cheeks. I snapped photos of both!

10) Start Pinning Fruit & Veggie Recipes for summer. When you see a good recipe for strawberries, blackberries, apples or zucchini, pin (or bookmark) it for later. Speaking of blackberries... if you love blackberries, you should see the immense berries that Yuma Mom's family picked at Silvas Farm in Yuma, AZ.  She also tells us about her favorite recipe for Apple-Blackberry Pie.

No matter where you are in the country, you can Pick Your Own Around the Country at PickYourOwn.org. Lehigh Valley Mom has a compiled a list here for her readers.

Have you gone berry picking yet?  What are your favorite memories from your trip to the farm?