We have been to the U-Pick at Covert Farms almost half a dozen times in the last few weeks. More than half the trips I’ve braved alone with my three little children (4, 2 and 6 months). I think I’m starting to understand how to make these U-Pick trips fun (for everyone) and productive.
Go early in the day. Arrive at the U-Pick as it opens. Little children are more willing to try something new and to help out in the morning. Also, by going early it means you’ll beat the rush and the sweltering heat (if you live somewhere warm).
Be prepared for the elements. Bring hats and sunscreen for the sun, or coats if it’s chilly. Don’t go if you think there might be a wind, rain or hail storm. Trust me.
Pack plenty of water and snacks. Don’t underestimate how much you’re children and you will drink, especially if it’s hot. Snacks are helpful to recharge everyone when energy is running low.
Bring a picnic blanket. Again, it provides a place for the little ones to rest while you pick. It’s also great for an impromptu picnic when everyone needs a break.
Bring boxes and pails. U-Picks usually have ways for you to bring your produce home but they aren’t always free.
Park close to where you are picking. Depending on the U-Pick you might be able to park right by the area you are picking. This is ideal for a few reasons. You can drop off produce into your vehicle as you pick it. You can grab items (water, food, diapers) as you need them. And, it can be an area of rest for the little ones. At times Monkey and Sweetpea would sit in the shade of the van and play in the dirt.
Pack the baby in a carrier. Strollers can be awkward at some U-Picks, even the off-road BOB strollers. I found that Teddy was much happier being carried in a Beco carrier on my back and as a result I was better able to attend to my other two and pick things.
Make a plan. Do you want to pick whatever or do you want 100lbs of tomatoes? Have an idea of what you want to get before arriving at to the U-Pick.
Play, discover and learn. When my two older ones got restless I would divert their attention a with games and songs. Sometimes we’d pretend we were looking for “tomato treasures” as many of the red tomatoes would be hidden in the foliage of the plant. Other times I’d make an effort to find “baby tomatoes” for Sweetpea to pick. When we’d discover something new, like heirloom tomatoes or oddly shaped peppers, we’d examine them and talk about them. Monkey and I would also talk about what we would do with the produce we were picking. Would we make jam from the blackberries? or a smoothie from the strawberries?
If you have little ones don’t be shy about bringing them to a U-pick. It is a great way to help them understand where food comes from and to get excited about a wide range of produce. Do you have any U-Pick experiences or tips that you’d like to share?