Pick your pleasure, pick your fun

Logan Niles

When I go grocery shopping I’m pretty picky, I turn containers over, sniff fruit, hold olive oil up for inspection, thump melons and gaze into the eyes of aquatic life on display. As a “city girl” growing up in a car-less household the thought of going to pick seasonal produce at “local” farms always excited me. I am enchanted with anything that grows on a tree or a bush that I can pick and eat; it’s really magical and never ceases to amaze me. Unfortunately not having a vehicle in New York City, or even friends with vehicles,  meant no picking trips. But it did leave me with a real longing to partake in all of the pick-your-own fun I heard about but couldn’t partake in as a kid. Instead I spent my time finding fruit bearing bushes and trees in Central Park. I knew where the best mulberry, sour cherry and apple trees were and thrilled at finding the occasional apricot tree; birthed no doubt by a pit being pitched over the park wall by a Central Park West bus stop. I spent years harvesting my precious gems while onlookers gawked and asked if my treasures were “safe to eat”. It wasn’t until my early 20’s that I was able to go once in a while with a friend with a car, but I still never quite got the full experience until last week.
snowpeasloganWith the workers strike in full effect this past Canada Day my family, some neighbours and I decided to visit Whittamore’s Farms for the day for a little picking action. At Whittamore’s you have the option of bringing your own containers, plastic bags are frowned upon in the berry fields, or you can purchase inexpensive and large buckets from the farm itself. We opted not to go too crazy since we had plans to pick snow peas, sugar snap peas and new potatoes later in the day. I was amazed at the sheer size of the farm, the amount of people who had the same idea plus the civility and order at which everyone interacted. I think I was even more excited than my 4-year-old who, naturally, couldn’t abide by the “No Eating!!” signs posted everywhere. After we were assigned our own row to pick it was impossible for three of us to gather all of the incredibly fresh and delicate fruits at our feet. We simply weren’t prepared to leave with gallons of berries so we left plenty behind for the next group of pickers. Thankfully the forecast called for a mix of sun and light rain so the drifting clouds overhead kept our backs from baking while we squatted over to find red jeweled berries, bright green pea pods and muddy potatoes. It really makes you think hard about the millions of migrant workers who scrape by picking delicate produce for our supermarket enjoyment. These are hard working people doing physically draining work!

In the end we left with mounds of red berries, tons pea pods that make delicious raw snacks and some amazingly fresh potatoes that required some serious washing and scrubbing. The farm’s store yielded even more goodies from delicious baked goods, fresh garlic, amazingly flavourful cheeses from  Empire Cheese & Butter Co-op and the same farm-fresh produce from the fields if picking isn’t your thing. For little kids there’s the “Fun Farm Yard” for animal petting, hay rides, a bouncy farmhouse and all manner of things to climb on. $5 a child for 2 year-old and up isn’t bad for unlimited access but they do make adults pay as well, which may limit your desire to take the whole family in.

A week later our strawberries are still fairly fresh (don’t cover them after picking and when refrigerated so they canstrawberrieslogan breathe and whatever you do don’t wash them until you need to use them!) and we have tons of snap still left in our beans.

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Comments

  1. Excellent article, Logan. Your enthusiasm is contagious. You’ve given me another reason to feel grateful for the plethora of local farms and stands near my home. The fact that your cold gets excited about eating raw fruits and vegetables is an example of parenting at its best.

  2. “…your child”. Not your cold. I have no idea where that came from.