One of my personal highlights of the year is an outing to a pick your own farm. We don’t do it often enough really, but when we do manage, there’s something really special about it in so many ways.
Personally, I can’t really think of anything more satisfying than harvesting food and then going home and making it into something. The picking becomes addictive, a bit like knitting or bursting bubble wrap. It’s so satisfying looking for the reddest berries, the thickest pea pods, the biggest broccoli florets.
There’s also the vastness of it – While my meagre attempts to grow my own hardly ever yield the ingredients for a full meal, and every berry, every leaf is precious, there is the bounty of a farm to discover, and I find it strangely exhilarating.
For the kids, there is the sense of purpose, the simple and pure enjoyment of carrying a basket and filling it, of presenting the bounty and the joy at making yummy food from it. The secretive opening of a pea pod (just to test it!) and tasting of the sweet pea, the secret berry. They smell the filling basket, they steal the berries I picked so that their basket fills up quicker. And when I tried a strawberry, the realisation of how much better, sweeter, juicier they taste in season when they’ve grown outside, even with the little sun we’ve had.
Of course a lot of learning takes place too – where food comes from, what the plant looks like, and how the plant grows, and when it’s ready to be picked. When we podded the peas, my older one insisted that the ones with the biggest peas were picked by her, because they were the best ones.
And the specialist thing was the basket, which my 5 year old had pressured me to buy for me. It’s a hand woven willow basket which we bought from the basket maker herself. I remember how please she was (to have sold one), and how pleased my daughter and myself were (for having bought such a thing of beauty). Yesterday, both children paraded it, taking turns, and were not to be separated from it. Even as the raspberries have become 12 jars of jam, the peas have been eaten or frozen, the basket is still at the centre of their play.
We picked our own at East Yonderton Farm in Inchinnan, right next to Glasgow Airport (which is great for spotting planes as they take off and land while picking fruit). It’s the only farm in the Glasgow area. There are lots in Fife and Perthshire and you can find a list of farms here.