Some of my favorite memories were made outdoors. The time when I was two and insisted on riding a horse by myself (a request to which my mother willingly acquiesced)? Happened outdoors. Straddling a creek-side fallen log cowgirl-style for a zany family photo one chilly November? Outdoors. Falling asleep in a tent on the Northern California coast after driving cross-country from North Carolina with my best gal pal Bonnie (it was August, the car had no A.C., she was moving to San Francisco-memories were made)? You guessed it. For me, indoor gatherings have their place, but couple fresh air with friends and family and it’s bound to be good. [image sources, clockwise from top left: anna wolf, andrew a. comb, tripadvisor, garden of leah, sonshine kids]
Which is precisely why I love U-Pick farms so much. Not only do you get to score some amazing produce, you do so in a decidely low-fi, slow-going, oxygen-rich manner. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take quietly catching up with a friend I haven’t seen in some time in an apple orchard or berry patch over jockeying for air space in a loud, crowded bar any day. I’ve been blackberry-, blueberry-, pumpkin-, and apple-picking with friends and family. Not only did we benefit from a leisurely paced outdoor activity together, we supported the local food community, providing income for farmers and helping to support economies within communities.
U-Pick farms offer something for pretty much every season. Come autumn, you’ll find apple, pear, pumpkin, fig and even cranberry offerings. Pick-and-Cut tree farms are a blast for selecting the perfect specimen for winter. In the spring, it’s time to pick strawberries, while summer U-Picks are a veritable feast for the senses, presenting opportunities for picking berries, peaches, cherries, plums, tomatoes, and beyond. Also, pick-your-own flower farms are becomingly increasingly serviced by thrifty and ecologically-minded brides. Can you imagine the heady aroma your car will exude after leaving a U-Pick lavender farm? Intoxicating! Remember Madeley’s Stamped Lavender Sachets ? They were crafted with buds sourced from a U-Pick farm!
If you’re going to U-Pick, why not incorporate all of your senses? Bring a picnic lunch (or brunch!) to enjoy on the premises. Alternately, you could host a post U-Pick potluck, with guests bringing dishes paying tribute to a specific seasonal offering (such as the upcoming “Sweet & Savory Apple Potluck” my husband and I will be hosting later in the month; we’ll provide the hard and hot cider, while the guests bring the eats!). Another idea might be to U-Pick with friends or family, and then head back to someone’s home for a group canning session. I’ll be doing that myself, next Friday. My editor and I are heading to a nearby apple orchard to harvest many, many bushels of apples. They’ll be rendered into small jars of apple butter and given to the publishing sales staff in promotion of my upcoming book series . Harvesting and making your own batch of something sweet or savory is also both an economical means of creating holiday gifts and stocking up your pantry for winter.
To find a U-Pick farm in your area, check out Pick Your Own . This comprehensive site offers both domestic and international U-Pick listings. You can also search your state’s government website for pick-your-own information. Now, go pick a winner and start creating your own outdoor memories to delight in and savor for years to come!