Rooted In Wonder:
Nurturing Your Family's Faith Through God's Creation
Master Naturalist, Bible teacher, author, wife, and mama of four! Join our adventures of discovering God while adventuring in creation.
It was just another thing on my list. Another project; one that I wanted to be fun, but instead my busy schedule and lack of time left a dark shadow hanging over it in my mind. Berry picking.
I saw the photos speckled throughout my Facebook feed. Smiling, sun-kissed children with bright red strawberry juice running down their chins; cardboard carriers packed full of plump, fresh-from-the-field berries, ready for washing, hulling, freezing, and putting away for colder months. Everyone looked so happy. So adventurous.
Yet I was viewing this task–this berry picking endeavor, as just another thing I had to get done.
Last year I brought my almost-2-year-old son to the strawberry u-pick farm and attempted to pick enough berries to last us all year. That experience taught me that berry picking is fun; but it’s also a chore, especially if you are serious about storing berries to enjoy in winter. It also taught me that sometimes when you set out to give your child an adventure, they may not be quite as excited about it as you are. Actually–it was a fiasco. (Read that story here)
And this year I had another reason to fear the field–Kansas City is hot. Like–really hot; much hotter than the mild Milwaukee weather we lived in last year at this time.
I figured I would set off in the morning, just myself because I didn’t want to subject my husband or young sons to the projected 90 degree day in the sun. I would drive an hour, slave away for a few more in the field, than drive the hour back home. Oh, and then I would spend a few more hours sorting, de-stemming, washing, drying, and freezing berries. I was mentally preparing myself for a hot and tiring all-day project.
So why do it? Why go slave away and give my entire morning and afternoon to the berries? Because I knew we would regret it come January if we didn’t have some delicious, local berries stashed away in the freezer. I knew a warm blueberry crumble would be just what we would need when we were locked indoors safe from the frigid temperatures and snow. Yes–not picking berries was simply not an option. I could sacrifice one day to guarantee a freezer full of local berries.
But then just a few days before I was to set off and face the heat of the blueberry field, I stopped by our local farmers market. I was on a mission. Earlier that week I had bought some phenomenal blueberries from one of the farmers, and I needed some more to hold us over until I could go berry picking. My hopes deflated as I approached the farmer’s tent and spied no green baskets of blueberries. “We’ll have more on Saturday.” she promised.
Just out of curiosity, or perhaps for the sake of small talk, I asked if they would consider selling their berries in bulk. They already had an unbeatable price of $5 on the quarts of berries, but they told me they could sell me the 4 gallons I was looking for at an even better price.
It took me just a little bit of math power to figure out that the price they named was actually $0.05 cheaper per pound than if I were to drive a hour and pick them myself! I was sold, and on Saturday I loaded 4 gallons–29 pounds–of these incredible berries into the back of my Volvo and set off back home to have them ready on the table for when my three men awoke.
Maybe when my boys are older we can spend a day out in the field picking berries, and it will be the blissful, perfect experience that I envision. But for now I have to be realistic–we just don’t have time or energy to do absolutely everything. We have to pick and choose our passion and projects to pursue. If someone else is willing to grow and pick gallons of berries for me, and they are still local, delicious, and wholesome–I’m all in!
With my morning freed up from my previous engagement with the berry field, I got to spend it with my men, employing them, as well as their friends, to help sort, wash, dry, and freeze 29 pounds of outstanding locally grown blueberries that we will enjoy all year long!
If you’re in the Kansas City area, I would highly recommend connecting with Randy and Rachel Polley from Bear Lake Farm. We have purchased various fruits and vegetables from them this year and have been extremely happy with the quality and prices, as well as their help with our blueberry project. You can find them at these area Farmers’ Markets:
Liberty, MO. Farmers’ Market
1332 West Kansas in Liberty, MO. (Feldman’s Farm & Home parking lot)
Wednesday mornings, 7am – 12pm
Gladstone, MO. Farmers’ Market
7010 N. Holmes Street Gladstone, MO 64118
Wednesday afternoons, 2 – 6pm
and Saturday mornings, 7am – 12pm
When you are buying such a large amount of ingredients, many farmers will work with you on price. Don’t be afraid to ask for a deal, and give your farmers a heads up by asking if they could have, say, 30 pounds of asparagus set aside for you on a particular date. Consider also asking for their phone number and giving them a reminder call of your order the week before!
Some farmers also sell what they may refer to as “seconds”. This includes apples that sport bruises from falling off trees (perfect for homemade apple sauce!), or tomatoes with some soft spots (perfect for tomato sauce or salsa!). They sell these at a much lower price. Sometimes they are on display, but sometimes you’ll have to ask around to find these blemished goodies. This is often the best way to stock up on fresh, local ingredients for your preservation projects!
I am guessing that only 25 of our 29 pounds of blueberries actually made it into the freezer last week, the rest were served at breakfast, snack times, lunch, and dinner all week long! We decorated sourdough pancakes with them, and baked them into this delicious Healthy Sugar-Free Grain-Free Blueberry Breakfast Crisp (recipe below).
Let’s just say that those blueberries were the star of our kitchen last week. And that we will continue to buy them each weekend and savor them for as long as the season gifts them to us. That is what I love about eating with the seasons: something new and exciting takes the stage for just a few weeks, and while it’s here, we enjoy it whole heartily and without reserve, and stash a bit away in the pantry or freezer for winter.
And then something new takes its place in the fields and at the Farmers’ Markets. It is the melody of the seasons, each new arrival painting a unique stroke on the masterful painting of a year of local food. It teaches us to savor every morsel of local goodness while we can–before its gone until next year. After all–you don’t fully appreciate what you have until it’s gone.
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!