The weather was overcast but not cold. The drive out to the island is about 30 minutes and we arrived at 10:00 and managed to beat the crowds. I had researched to see what farms on the islands had You Pick berry fields. Bella Organic made it to the top of the list because they are organic. If my kiddos were going to pick berries and eat straight off the plants, I wanted to make sure they weren't sprayed with any pesticides or other chemicals. Plus, their prices were awesome. $2.50 a pound for strawberries!
The fields are separated into the sweeter strawberries (Hoods) and the more tart berries (Totems). Since the Hoods tend to be more picked over, we trekked out to the more abundant fields.
The farm provides buckets to put your fruit in but you can also bring your own. I used their's with the intention that we would fill our buckets. I was right.
Cal hitching a ride with me
Jack taking a ride in the wagon. He thought this was pretty cool.
There was no one else in the fields while we were picking. The berries were small and super sweet. Once in a while we would find a large berry. The boys had an absolute blast picking and eating. No surprise, they managed to eat far more than went in the bucket. I didn't even need to feed them a morning snack!
Cal got heavy in the Ergo (all the bending and standing) so I took him out and let him run free. Since we were on an island and the fields are all short, I had no worries that he would disappear. I was right. He stayed close to the source of food.
Cal eating and carrying his bucket
Jack and Cathi picking. It was nice to have another set of hands. I asked Jason if he wanted to come and since it was Father's Day, he chose to sleep in. Slacker!
Cal showing off a super yummy berry. Notice his shirt covered in berry juice and dirt. He picked berries all by himself. It just took one pick to show him the red fruit and how to pluck the berry off the plant. That was all he needed.
Jack stayed much more clean but he ate his share of berries. I didn't even need to show him how to pick. Apparently an episode of "Special Agent Oso" covered how to pick berry. Twist and pull folks.
After about 30 minutes of picking strawberries, we were ready to head to the blackberry fields. The farmers told us there weren't many blackberries yet but that didn't detour me!
The boys riding to the blackberry fields. Pulling 60 pounds of kid is hard!
There were TONS of blackberries. We didn't even pick for 15 minutes before the bucket was full. Surprisingly, the boys loved eating the blackberries right off the vines. They are pretty tart but that didn't stop them.
Look at these gorgeous berries!
All in all, we picked about 12 pounds total of berries. Almost 6 pounds of each.
I wish you could see just how dirty this kid was. It was so hysterical watching him play in the dirt, stop, pick a berry, eat it, run and play in the dirt some more.
It was seriously a great day. The boys had a blast, I had a blast and the weather was not too hot. Once we were home and the boys were down for a nap, this mom got to work!
The berry haul
So what did I do with all those berries?
8 pints of jam
I also macerated some strawberries in sugar for strawberry shortcake. I froze some blackberries for later (about 4 cups worth), we ate some strawberries, I gave two pints of berries to my friend so she could make ice cream, and I have another 6 cups of fresh berries in the fridge to eat and make into pies.
I am super pleased with how easy the jam was. I have never made jam and because I am a newb, I did freezer jam. The only cooking involved was boiling the pectin. Other than that, it was as easy as mashing the fruit, stirring in the sugar and pectin and then into the jars.
Even though the jam has a lot of sugar, it's cool knowing exactly what ingredients are in it. I will be happy to put this on toast or sandwiches. Plus, my kids love PB&J's so they will enjoy the fruits of my labor.
What an awesome day. I love doing things like this with my kids. It's something new for them, it's a learning experience and it gets them out of the house, outside in the fresh air. We will be going back to the island in 2 weeks because blueberries will be in season!