Remember the berry season is short

photo-159I encountered this memento mori of sorts on the strawberry box at Linvilla Orchards, a pick-your-own farm about 30 minutes from my house: Remember the berry season is short. It’s true. I love strawberries, and I especially love bright juicy red ones picked at their peak. But berry season is short, so it’s a struggle to get to the pick-your-own farm sometime between May 15 and June 15 (roughly). Get caught up in other things and next thing you know, the berries are gone until next year.

We managed to squeeze in a visit during the window this year, and had several other adventures this weekend as well. On Friday night we went to my husband’s office party and enjoyed some terrific barbecue and letting the kids run around with other kids about their ages. On Saturday, I got up early to drive to Princeton for a board meeting of the University Press Club (and found myself making several old fogey remarks to the current students — sigh). Then my husband and kids met me and we took in the extravaganza that is the “P-rade” — the annual procession of Princeton alums in wacky costumes. It’s not just people there for major class reunions. There was a spot for the class of 2001, celebrating our 13th reunion. The parade always starts with the class celebrating its 25th reunion (1989!) and then proceeds to the “Old Guard,” with the oldest alumni (or sometimes their widows) parading in golf carts. It is something. There was actually a reasonable contingent there from the class of 1939, celebrating their 75th reunion. The class of 1944, celebrating their 70th reunion, had World War II era Jeeps. Unfortunately, all the processing took a while, and my kids kind of lost it by the class of 1978. So we took off for my brother’s house and played with cousins for a while there.

On Sunday, the littlest two had swim lessons. My 4-year-old has turned into a regular fish. But this was not the biggest breakthrough for the weekend. My 2-year-old managed to get to the potty every single time she needed to go. She has made good on her word, as she agreed last Wednesday night when I changed her, that that was her last dirty diaper. We let her wear her new Cinderella underwear much of Sunday, and she was so proud of herself she wore just her Cinderella underwear for much of the evening.

In the afternoon, I took the boys strawberry picking, and my husband took our daughter fishing (she didn’t catch anything). I enjoyed the strawberry picking — complete with the little memento mori on the box — but the boys were not terribly enthusiastic after the first 10 minutes. I get it. The hay ride to the field was fun, but then you’re out in the hot sun, bending over, digging in the plants. Not only that, the price per pound was close to twice what it is in the supermarket or farmer’s market right now at peak season. You’re paying for entertainment, and your entertainment is experiencing life as a farm worker for about half an hour. No wonder “pick your own” farms made the list on that old satirical blog of Stuff White People Like.

Oh well. They grumbled until we got back on the hay wagon and drove home. Then we went for a swim, made strawberry shortcake (pictured) had a cookout, and planted some more flowers in the backyard. The berry season may be short, but this weekend didn’t feel all that short. We packed a lot in.

Do you do pick-your-own strawberries? (or some other produce?)

11 thoughts on “Remember the berry season is short

  1. Fruit picking is one of the things I miss from living farther north. Even did it for an anniversary one year.
    We do have a lot of wild blackberries around here and we’ve been planting fruit trees. But it is hard to remember when apple and strawberry seasons are since they’re off schedule from what were used to, so we rarely pick our own at the one localish place (about an hour away).

  2. Thanks for the reminder to check our local berry schedule! We always seem to miss strawberry season, though it’s my and my son’s favorite fruit. We get it together in time for blueberries and raspberries. I think it’s a teacher-schedule thing- we just don’t think about berry picking during the hectic last days of the school year.

  3. I haven’t taken my kids fruit picking yet (and its telling that you did NOT bring your two-year-old…), and I’ve heard that Linvilla is just so crowded that I’m not super excited about going there—I know there are smaller farms around and will look into it. I do love fresh berries, though and we’re eating a literal ton of them around here! (And I’ve got two tiny strawberry plants boasting 10 little green fruits right now…if we can pluck them before the squirrels get them this year, we can have our little berry-picking at home!)

    1. @Ana – she wanted to go fishing instead! But yes, it was probably a bit more chill without her. She stepped into the pond twice, my husband reported.

  4. I am glad that you found, enjoyed and are mentioning Linvilla Orchards. The Linvill family are wonderful people who are making a great contribution to our community.

  5. Linvilla used to be amazing, but I’ve heard it’s become overrun. My husband used to have to pick fruit on the farm he grew up on, so he finds it amusing that here we pay for the privilege. I think it can be fun though. We’re waiting a few years to bring the offspring. I LOVE the playground they have at Linvilla, and my daughter still talks about the hayride she went on last October for pumpkin picking.

  6. It’s really nice to grow your own garden,we’ve been gardening for 4 years now but we don’t have strawberries,what we have are cucumber,cherry tomatoes,onions and sweetcorn and this will be our girls’ first time to pick vegetables out of the garden. Exciting!

    1. @Gladys – we made the mistake last summer of planting tomatoes that were very delicate and slow growing — like 120 days to ripe from planting. So we didn’t get our tomatoes until October, right before the first frost. They were great, but none of us is that patient. So this year, more normal tomatoes. One of my plants already has a little tomato growing on it! June 3!

  7. I always thought that you got fresh berries at a low price and it’s an activity listed in every parenting magazine or blog. But the labor does not appeal to me at all.

    1. @oilandgarlic – not necessarily a low price. The strawberries at our pick-your-own were $3.99/lb, and you can usually get 1 lb containers for around $2 on sale right now (peak season), or at most 2/$5. You’re paying for entertainment.

  8. Cost-effectiveness depends on where you pick. I live near Charlotte, NC, and the pick-your-own farms here range in price from $24/gal (organic, just outside the city) all the way down to $6/gal (conventionally grown, just a little off the beaten track). Guess which farm we go to? 🙂 I went with my adult sister, my two-year-old daughter, her three-year-old cousin, and a couple of teenage younger siblings. We brought snacks and made a morning of it. Between us we picked TWELVE gallons of strawberries. It was hot and tiring, but the company was great, and halfway through my teenage sister took the toddlers to play at a shaded swing set and sandbox while the rest of us kept picking.

    I weighed my strawberries after washing and hulling them, and one gallon = about five pounds, so I paid about $1.20/lb. I freeze them and use them for smoothies all year long, and honestly the difference in quality compared to what I can find frozen at the store is so huge, I’d pay more just for that reason. It’s just a bonus that I love to pick strawberries!

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