One of our favorite summer activities is picking fruit. The kids love filling up baskets full of fresh berries or ripe peaches. And I love seeing their purple-stained grins after they shove a handful of newly-picked blackberries in their mouths. There really is something almost magical about seeing where fruit comes from and enjoying it so freshly picked.
Picking fruit is also a fantastic way to get kids excited about nature. My son loves identifying fruit trees and bushes when we are walking through local parks. He is actually excited to study the way fruit starts out as a flower and develops into something edible. He could spend hours sitting in a peach tree or making his way through raspberry bushes, and the whole time he is surrounded by the sights and sounds of the outside world.
Another great thing about picking fruit is that kids of all ages can be involved. Granted, my almost-two-year-old has a bit of trouble distinguishing between the green fruits and the purple ones but she gets so excited every time she plucks a berry off the bush (and she even enjoys eating the green ones!). Even if your child isn’t walking yet, you can wear them in a carrier and pop treats into their mouth while you pick. Or lay baby on a blanket so she can see all of the beautiful fruit all above her.
We are lucky that we have fruit trees and berry bushes in our yard. But even if you don’t have that luxury, there are plenty of pick-your-own farms around the country. Just visit PickYourOwn.org to find a farm or orchard near you. There is also a great new website called Ripe Near Me that lets you find free fruit to pick! If you have produce on your property that you want to sell or just give away, you can list it on Ripe Near Me. Or if you know of fruit trees or bushes on public land, you can post about them to let others know where to find them. The founders of the site started it because they noticed citrus trees throughout the suburbs full of ripe fruit that nobody was eating. We found free fruit in some great places like wineberries at Kemper Park at Monticello, mulberries at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens and juneberries at a small park in Charlottesville.
Stay tuned for our free ebook with more ways to encourage your child to love nature!