By Emily Ryan, The Mercury
Dressed in an orange shirt, tan shorts and matching hat as protection from the morning sun, a 3½-year-old combed blueberry bushes, searching for the dark blue ones his daddy showed him how to pick. The boy proudly dropped them in a bucket, but couldn’t resist tasting a few along his way through the rows at Weaver’s Orchard.
“It is something, you find, families enjoy for generations,” said Ed Weaver. “Seeing them make that a part of their lifestyle, eating local fruits and vegetables, is rewarding for sure.”
Pick-your-own season’s in full swing at the Robeson farm.
“We have some customers who are here two, three, four times a week,” he mentioned. “I see a lot of people come in who just enjoy picking, and they give the fruit away to friends.”
“There’s a certain pleasure and satisfaction to going out in the field and looking for your own food and picking it,” added Larry Tse, farm manager of Longview Farm in Worcester. “They walk past our vegetable fields and get inspired to join our CSA or buy more from local farmers’ markets, and that’s a wonderful thing.”
Strawberries, blueberries and Asian pears attract a loyal u-pick following.
“They have a really beautiful crispness to them that a lot of other pears don’t have,” said Tse. “They have a lot of juice, and they’re really super-sweet.”
Tse fondly recalled picking fruit when he was little.
“Just being out there with my family – feeling the fresh air,” he explained, “it’s a really great way to get families and kids more involved in agriculture.
At Highland Orchards in West Bradford, “It starts in May with rhubarb,” said Art Whitehair, events coordinator. “The end of May/beginning of June, it’s strawberries, and then the other things jump in,” such as pears, apples and pumpkins.
The current star: peaches.
“When you’re picking it for pick-your-own, it’s tree-ripened,” he continued. “A lot of times in grocery stores, they’re not even ripe yet. I think they taste so much better when they’re really ripe.”
Ed Weaver couldn’t agree more.
“One of the reasons people enjoy coming out is there’s a lot of different varieties you can’t find in the supermarket,” he said.
Weaver offers everything from apricots to apples and even pick-your-own kiwi berries, which are “growing in popularity.”
“The flavor is very unique. It tastes like a kiwi fruit, but the texture, I would say, is not quite as firm,” he described. “They don’t have the fuzzy skin a kiwi does. You just pop them in your mouth and eat them.”
No doubt that little boy in the field would enjoy picking kiwi berries when they ripen around mid-September. In the meantime, he walked hand-in-hand with his father toward their car, wearing a big blueberry-stained smile.
Peach Baked Oatmeal
½ cup of applesauce (or melted butter)
½ cup of brown sugar
2 beaten eggs
3 cups of oatmeal (Weaver likes to use the whole oats, but it also works with the ‘quick’ ones)
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon of salt
1 cup of milk
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
2 large peaches, peeled and chopped
Mix all of these ingredients in a bowl. Pour into an 8-by-11-inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. (Yeah, it’s that easy!) Serve a scoop of it warm in a bowl with milk poured on top of it.
This recipe keeps well in the fridge in an airtight container, so you could even make it the evening before and heat it in the microwave the next morning for breakfast on the go. You can also bake the oatmeal in a 9-by-13 pan, but keep an eye on it since it might not take as long to bake.
Recipe courtesy of Elizabeth Weaver, Weaver’s Orchard
Strawberry Peach Carrot Smoothie
5 carrots, washed and peeled
1 pint strawberries, washed and stems removed
2 peaches, pitted
½ cup water
1 cup ice
½ cup plain yogurt
If you don’t have a juicer, puree the carrot in a blender or food processor with water. Add in the remaining fruit, yogurt and ice, and blend well.
Recipe courtesy of Weaver’s Orchard
Love fresh flowers? Pick your own blooms at Vollmecke Orchards & CSA in West Brandywine. It’s also BYOB – bring your own bucket.
“They’re lovely. People can really come up with quite a nice assortment for local bouquets,” said Karen Vollmecke. “Maybe somebody’s having a wedding, and they want to have local flowers.”
To learn more, contact the farm or visit during retail hours, 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, 155 Cedar Knoll Rd., Coatesville. www.csachestercounty.com