Friday, July 20, 2012

Just about missed the strawberries!

We are so fortunate to have a choice of pick-yer-own farms in our area.

Both are great for different reasons.  Both are run by members of the same family.

We decided to go to Paulridge this year, because of necessity.  My mother in law called ahead to see which farm actually still had strawberries left!  We had waited too long in the season to have the luxury of choice.

So off to Napanee we went back at the beginning of July!

(Ideal timing in our area seems to be the middle to end of june for strawberries...but raspberries are later on)

Paulridge Farms is a family run operation that has been going on for years.

They really do have it down to a fine art.  They provide everything one might need for the experience.

Quaint placards display current pricing, wagons to haul your load to the car.  The parking lot is a short hike from the fields...kind of a nice treat to see the exhaust is kept a safe distance back from the food.

Owen shows me he is ready to go with all the tools he needs.

(Lucky for him Mum brings the other essentials like sunscreen, a cushion for your knees or bum and lots of water.)

The driver takes us on a flat bed trailer to the spot that is currently being picked.

Owen moves down the rows searching for the ultimate berry!

Lucky for us it was a hot day with no scorching sun.

Owen still needed a rest in between the rows.  Whew!

We were able to haul out 3 baskets of berries between Owen and I.

Nana picked 3 baskets herself.

We do eat some while we work...but after a while you just want to get out of the uncomfortable hunched over position.  So you pick faster...and snack less.  On the ride back to the main buildings, we snack a bit in sheer exhaustion and bliss.  Behind Owen are the baskets picked by the employees.  Those berries are sold at a premium, as "pre picked berries" at the main buildings.  The flavour of home grown, fresh picked berries but without the back pain.

Paulridge Farm has a play area at the main buildings. 
Its a nice little spot to rest up before heading back home.

We had to wait a little bit as Ches and Noah went their own route.
We decided to divide and conquer, splitting our efforts between strawberries and raspberries!

Ches and Noah picked 2 baskets of raspberries, which is saying a lot!
We have found that filling a full basket of raspberries takes twice as long because they are smaller and the bushes hide those ripe suckers!

In the end the boys were happy with the haul.
Total haul:  6 baskets of strawberries, 2 baskets of raspberries, 4 pints of fresh peas and 1 pint each of green and yellow beans.

It took approximately 2 and a half hours from the start of our trip door to door.

We made a huge batch of strawberry jam along with a couple of raspberry jams.
We rinsed and froze some of each kind of berry in large freezer bags.
Some of those frozen berries will turn into smoothies or be inserted into pies or crisps.  The newest thing for us is thawing a few for a batch of home made raspberry vinaigrette. 

All the tops we cut off the berries when we prepared them will go great in our composter too!

We ate the beans and peas almost immediately.
Eating fresh peas from the pods remind me of my childhood driving from Oshawa to a farm in Bowmanville.
My Mom and I would shell and eat them all the way home.

My paternal Grandma Bell was also big on picking your own when they were in season.
Perhaps that is a peak into her farming childhood or a reminder of the hikes in Selwyn Park in the Kawarthas where her and her husband built a cottage on Chemong Lake.

I just hope that my sons take their children picking berries and the tradition will continue.

Memories are made along the journey...not when you get to the destination!

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