Art&Seek Jr. is one mom‘s quest to find activities to end the seemingly endless chorus of the “I’m Bored Blues” while having fun herself. Impossible you say? Check back on Tuesdays for kid-friendly events that are fun for adults, too.
I love the idea of having my own garden. You know exactly where the food you eat came from, and it can be a valuable learning experience for your kids. Of course, for me, the key word in that first sentence is “idea.” To say I don’t have a green thumb is a behemoth understatement. I can’t even keep my lawn alive, and I swear my house plants shutter when I walk by. Despite being “agriculturally” challenged, I still like to give my child a taste of farm life from time to time.
One such opportunity came up when my friend Sarah (an organizer of the White Rock Local Market) decided to keep “urban chickens” in her East Dallas backyard. I’ll never forget the first time we were invited over to meet the flock of four laying hens and Sarah’s then seven year-old son, Franklin, told me the names he and his younger brothers had decided upon. “That’s Megatron, that’s Cybertron and that’s Decepticon.” “What about that one over there?” I asked. “Oh, that’s Tilly.” Fresh eggs from Transformer chickens, what a great idea.
Last weekend, Rose and I took our agricultural adventures on the road to visit a farm where we could pick our own fruit. We decided on blueberries because June is prime picking time for blueberries – that and the visions of blueberry muffins, pancakes and cobbler that wouldn’t leave our brains. There are tons of pick-your-own farms in the area; a good resource for finding these farms is a site called PickYourOwn.org . Using the county map, we selected Blueberry Hill Farms in Edom, Texas. Rose prefers to travel with an entourage, so we invited four of her favorite peeps (and their moms) along and set off on our quest for the perfect blueberries.
We got started a little later than we planned because it took time to sort out who was going to ride with who and whether we had packed everything we needed for the hour and half trek east. Which brings me to an important point – when it comes to picking, the earlier you can start, the better. We were lucky in that the sun and the heat weren’t too bad on the day we went. But keep in mind it is June and it gets HOT out in a field fairly early in the day. Be sure you factor in the drive time to your destination so you’re not picking in the heat of the day. Your lil’ pickers will thank you.
The drive to Edom is very picturesque with pretty farms and countryside galore. We counted down all the signs to our exit, mooed at all the cows, giggled when we passed the Little Vandals Play School in Van, Texas, and before we knew it we were at our destination. The nice people at Blueberry Hill Farms armed our brood with baskets and pointed us toward the best rows for picking. Peak season is generally around the 4th of July, but the berries are early this year so we had no trouble finding plenty to pick. A full basket is $14, and a child-size basket is $7. The owners have set up a water station in the middle of the field for those who need shade and a break from the heat. We used this time to explain to our kids how crops like these have to be harvested and that it’s very hard work. I think it really made an impression on them sitting there looking at all those rows of blueberries.
When you’re done picking, head up to the air-conditioned store and bakery, where they’ll bag up your berries for you and you can be tempted by all the blueberry goodies. My personal favorite was the blueberry lemonade. We all ended up with about a gallon of picked blueberries per family, which was pretty good considering our laborers spilled their buckets a few times. Yes, I know you can buy blueberries at the grocery store and save your gas and time. But you can’t put a price on the great time we had picking our own.
Therese Powell is an Art&Seek calendar coordinator and KERA-TV producer. She spends most of her free time seeking out adventures for her 7-year-old daughter, Rose. Tell us about your time picking berries or clue us in to your ideas for quirky kid adventures by leaving a comment. Or e-mail Therese at firstname.lastname@example.org.