If you are looking for an activity to do with children on a summer weekend, picking fresh fruit is a wonderful choice!
Even picky eaters usually eat fruit, but for those who won’t, this is a fun activity nonetheless and may encourage your picky eater to try some of the antioxidant-filled, vitamin-rich Good Stuff! The best part is that going to pick fruit connects children to where their food comes from, and connects them to nature, which we continue to learn is critical to mental health (have you seen the latest studies?).
Here in Pennsylvania, I have taken my grandsons to pick strawberries, blueberries, peaches, wild raspberries, and apples. Unfortunately, we missed cherries this year but those are fun to pick, too. Wherever you live, you can find out what fruit grows in your local area and explore this wonderful activity with your child.
A few years ago we spent a month in Vermont, and Felix, then 4, wouldn’t eat blueberries (although he will now)–and still he loved picking us a pint each morning for breakfast! Eventually, he grew brave enough to try some.
Here are a few simple ways to get your picky eaters picking fruit!
1. You don’t need a garden to grow berries. You can grow something in your garden or even a small container. I have planted strawberries in a pot on my patio, and blueberry bushes are great even in a small yard.
2. Plant a fruit tree. I have Asian pear trees and cherry trees in my small suburban yard.
3. Visit a strawberry or blueberry farm where they offer pick your own. Lots of people go apple-picking, but berry-picking is even more kid friendly, especially when it comes to toddlers.
4. Hunt for wild fruit. Raspberries or blackberries are the easiest to find, and part of the fun is driving to the country and searching for them. My grandsons and I recently discovered a new wild raspberry patch while on a walk near a river. If you ask around, someone will be able to tell you where you can find wild fruit for the taking. The wonderful thing about wild fruit is that it is not sprayed with pesticides and herbicides, so I don’t worry about my grandsons eating the berries right off the bush.
5. Visit a local organic orchard during its season. Here in Pennsylvania, we have lots of orchards to visit, but the tricky part is finding an organic one. Organic apple orchards are fairly easy to find, but now that peach season is upon us, I have been unable to find a place to pick organic peaches! Your best bet may to be to talk with various orchards and try to find someone who is aware of the problems with pesticides and works to manage pests with the least amount of pesticides possible. A bonus to asking your farmers about their pest control: the more consumers demand healthy, safe produce, the more the market will respond!
Along with the fun of collecting the fruit can be various harvest and preparation activities. Baking, canning, freezing, and eating your gatherings all can be fun and educational. Here is a favorite healthful raspberry dessert recipe to celebrate almost the end of raspberry season!