The following was written by contributor Christen Babb of NurtureBaby and originally appeared on Simple Kids in June of 2011.
It’s official: Summer is finally upon us! Just as those long, lazy, sun-drenched days bring out the best in many of us, Summertime also gleans some of natures’ most delectable delights. Nothing says Summer like a generous sliver of ice-cold watermelon, a peach so luscious its juices run down your chin, or a heaping handful of plump, juicy blueberries.
These delicious provisions, and many others currently in season, can be enjoyed beyond the typical grocery store experience. In fact, Summer lends the perfect time to take your kids on a field trip to a local farm.
I happen to live in Georgia, world renowned for its exquisite peaches. However, each region specializes in a particular variety of fruits and vegetables. A great resource to find farms in your area is Pick Your Own.org. You can search local farms for a particular fruits and vegetables, or even specify locations exercising strict organic farming. Even those living smack-dab-in-the-middle-of-suburbia will find farms no more than a day trip away.
A Few Ideas to Make the Most of Your Fieldtrip:
Talk to the Owners
This is easier when you go to a small, more quaint farm. Ask for a tour and/or the opportunity to pick your own produce. Inquire about the farm’s history. The owners are often times anxious to share their farm’s rich culture and history, providing an interesting glimpse into Americana.
For example, the owners of Gardner Peach Farms were fifth generation. We learned that the current owner’s great-great-grandfather peacefully acquired the land from a local Indian tribe that taught him how to properly cultivate peaches. The family also experienced the hardships of the Civil War and the Great Depression.
Facts like these lend the perfect backdrop for children to experience history in an exciting way – outside of the same ‘ole textbook material.
Discuss the Importance of Local Produce
This field trip not only provides a great history lesson, but a environmental one, too. Often times, our children think fruits and vegetables come from the grocery store, not farms. Your children can learn the true origin of our foods, the hard work required to harvest them, and the importance of buying locally.
When you buy local produce, you decrease your carbon footprint while also supporting the local economy. Not to mention, local foods usually taste better and are more nutritious, thanks to their freshness.
Take it to Your Kitchen
Round out your farm fieldtrip with a hands-on cooking lesson with your kids, using the fresh fruits/vegetables you gathered. Your child will take tremendous pride in the food he helped prepare – from farm to table.
Since my family picked Georgia peaches, I will leave you with a beautiful, kid-friendly peach sorbet recipe – perfect for a hot, Summer afternoon.
Georgia Peach Sorbet
(makes 6 servings)
4 cups of chopped, peeled peaches*
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup of peach-flavored club soda
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
Fresh blackberries and mint for topping (optional)
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine water and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently until the sugar dissolves completely. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, put the peaches in a food processor and puree until smooth. Combine peach puree with cooled sugar syrup, club soda and lime juice. Stir until well blended.
Freeze peach mixture in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Spoon into chilled container, cover, and freeze until ready to serve or up to 2 days. Top sorbet with fresh blackberries and/or mint if desired.
*Tip for peeling peaches: Bring a large stock pot of water, deep enough to submerge whole peaches, to a boil. Gently place whole peaches in boiling water and cook them for approximately 30 seconds. Remove peaches with slotted spoon and place immediately in ice bath, leaving them in for about a minute. Remove from ice bath and dry; peach skin should peel off very easily.
How about you? What is your favorite kind of local produce? Can you share a “farm-to- table” experience you’ve enjoyed with your kids?