This time of year is the perfect opportunity to head to a local farm to pick your own produce for the season, whether it be apples, pears, pumpkins, squash or others available where you live. By taking your children on a u-pick adventure, they will learn a tremendous amount about food and the environment and you will build family memories that will last a lifetime.
Encourage Healthy Eating
One of the best ways to get kids excited about eating healthier foods is to let them go out and touch and feel the fruits and vegetables for themselves. When you take your children to pick their own produce, you are exposing them to healthier options and making it fun for them to choose delicious whole foods.
The best part is that you can go home from the farm and spend quality time together in the kitchen creating tasty meals from the food you hand-picked yourselves. There are so many healthy kid-friendly recipes to discover, from smoothies to side dishes to snacks.
Spend Time Outdoors In Nature
Between hectic schedules, safety concerns and over-consumption of technology, children have less exposure and connection to nature, which has been linked to issues such as childhood obesity, vitamin D deficiency, attention difficulties and higher rates of anxiety and depression.
By taking them on fun, outdoorsy trips, we are giving kids more opportunities to explore our natural environment. It is a wonderful chance for the entire family to enjoy a few hours strolling around an orchard or farm taking in the sights, fragrances and miracles of nature.
Support Locally Grown Food
When you pick your own produce at a farm in your area, you are supporting your local community playing a role in reducing the distance that food travels to reach you, saving energy and resources. Local food also preserves genetic diversity because smaller local farms often grow many different varieties and rotate their crops to provide a long harvest season. Finally, local farms typically conserve fertile soil and clean water, ensuring a safe habitat for wildlife. Additionally, locally grown food tastes better, is more nutritious, and stays fresh longer.
Teach Your Children To Appreciate Where Food Comes From
When your children pick food with their own hands, they learn to appreciate where food comes from and the work involved in making every meal we enjoy. It also gives them a special connection to farmers that they can’t experience at the grocery store.
Encourage your children to ask the farmers questions about the seasons, the land, different produce being grown and the specific work they do on a daily basis.
Here are some additional ways to instill a deeper appreciation for where our food comes from:
• Eat mindfully with your children. This practice allows us to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that can come from preparing and eating food.
• Express gratitude for the food we have. When children have the chance to help create what they eat, they begin to understand how lucky they are to have dinner on the table each night.
• Give to others. Some ideas include putting together trail mix using pumpkin seeds and dried apples for underprivileged youth or making your own apple sauce for a local food bank or childcare center.
Enjoy Seasonal Produce
The best part of picking your own produce this fall is that you will be able to enjoy nature’s delicious treats as fresh as they come. When you eat the food that is grown locally in season, you save money, have access to more nutritious food and reduce the impact on the environment.
Visiting a u-pick farm also gives you a chance to talk to your children about the changing seasons, cycles of nature and where certain crops grow during the year.
5 Local U-Pick Farms
Weber’s PYO Peachberry Farm, Glen Arm
Larriland Farm, Woodbine
Baugher’s Orchard and Farm, Westminster
Shaw Orchards, White Hall
Jones Family Farm, Edgewood