Every once in a while, just a short time unplugged from the internet, TV, and gadgets does a family good. Recently, our family chose to do just that. Perfect weather along with living in a heavily agricultural area made for a fantastic weekend of going to the farmer’s market, picking pumpkins, picking apples, and peeling the apples until our fingers were nubs. We spent less than what we would spend at the grocery store, but got so much more in return.
We just moved this summer, so we’re still exploring and learning what’s available in our area. We have found several places we will definitely return to in the months and years to come.
The weather was stunning for our day out – comfortable temperatures in the mid 60′s and a cloudless sky. We piled most of the kids into the van (I say most because the GeekTeen was still sleeping) and headed to the farmer’s market. Sweet corn, bell peppers, onions, grapes, tomatoes, real maple syrup…and prices comparable to the big-box grocery stores in town. The big bonus however was fresh-picked produce from Wisconsin that wasn’t covered in wax and shipped in from hundreds or thousands of miles away.
After the farmer’s market, we wanted to pick apples but got side-tracked by a farm offering pick-your-own pumpkins. The farm gave two options – you could ride in a trailer pulled by a tractor to the field to pick your pumpkin, or if you wanted to walk to a closer field, you could grab a Little Tykes wagon and pick your pumpkin. The farm had a petting zoo and some blow-up slides and bouncing pits for the kids.
We also made our way to a local apple orchard and picked a bushel of apples. Like the pumpkin patch, you rode a trailer with your box or bags out to the central part of the orchard and picked as many apples as you could carry. The kids had a blast – it was the first time they had a chance to do this. The air was filled with laughter and squeals from kids a couple rows over. More interestingly we saw several groups of teenagers out picking apples. At the orchard store we picked up apple cider (made the previous afternoon), and went home with the apples.
For just a little bit of money, we were able to make three apple crisps, two apple pies, three quarts of apple butter, a bag full of apple chips, and about four quarts of applesauce – and there were apples left over for plain old eating. They were incredible – crisp and juicy, not dry and mealy like most grocery store apples. So we saved money, enjoyed a day without gadgets (except a digital camera), and made some memories with the kids. Too bad we’ve got to wait another year to enjoy all of this.