When my daughter Isabelle was about four, I took her berry picking. As we headed out into the field I rattled off instructions for choosing the ripest fruit, avoiding the prickers, and putting the berries into the buckets instead of eating them. Yet every time I’d turn my back, she’d shove a little fistful of blackberries into her mouth. Hard to blame her, they were amazing right off the vine.
After some time, the owner of the farm wandered by and stopped for a chat. An elderly man with a gentle, wizened face that comes from a lifetime in the sun, he looked down at Isabelle and said, “you haven’t eaten any of those berries now, have you?” She looked up at the farmer, closed her rosebud lips up tight, crinkled her brow, and shook her head very firmly to indicate, “NO.” But she was covered in evidence: Her hands and mouth were awash in berry drippings, the front of her tee shirt, stained with blackberry juice beyond repair.
The farmer just smiled and walked on.
My kids have picked berries countless times since then. They’re older now and a little better about refraining from nibbling off the vine (I can’t say the same for myself).
Talk about good, clean fun — the kids get to see first hand where their food comes from, gain a little appreciation for the hard work that goes into harvesting, and you get to go home with an abundance of heavenly summer fruit.
I’ll be posting a “how to” on making berry jam in a few days. In the meantime, think about loading up your crew with a couple of boxes or buckets and heading for the field. If you’re wondering where to go, here is a link that might help: Pickyourown.org