As with so many things in life, the trick to picking strawberries is to begin with the end in mind.

2014 Index Begin with End

 

In this case, the end begins in the kitchen, for a short trip to the strawberry fields, especially with industrious little helpers in tow, can easily leave you with hours of afternoon work in the kitchen, attempting to “preserve the harvest,” when you might rather be napping.  Here’s a simple smoothie recipe for those of you with young children at home, from one of our Green Spiral families:

 Insert Recipe Here

 

Located near Creve Couer Lake off Page Road and the Maryland Expressway, Thies Farm is a long favored Green Spiral strawberry picking destination, and it’s nice to watch their eco-tourism business grow.  2014 was the FIFTH year in a row that Green Spiral Tours hosted a field trip to Thies Farms.  It’s important to “Know Your Farmer” and deepen children’s understanding that food comes from the land.  Strawberry picking is a good first step in building ecoliteracy in children and it’s best to do it during preschool, or sometime during the “magic years”.

 

Miles of Smiles

Miles of Smiles

 

Thies Farm now has three locations; here is the GPS location for the strawberry fields in Maryland Heights as well as the phone number: 314-469-7559.  Call before you head out to make sure the strawberry fields are open. Farmers live outdoors, and they are getting better at using technology. Still, the phone beats Facebook on most days.  Green Spiral almost never cancels a trip due to weather, and neither should your adventure group, but do know that strawberry picking is one of the few things you can’t do in the rain. The fields open at 9 am and you will want to get there early to beat the heat.

2014-05-31 Jack Shuff

You will get hot, and you will get dirty.  Children’s clothing will get strawberry stained, and so will your knees.  Take a sunhat or hoodie, and a bottle of water per person.  Short rubber boots are nice for kids.  The strawberry window lasts for about two or three weeks, and it’s easy to miss during the busy, busy month of May. You can often catch strawberry season just as school lets out for summer, weather depending.  Strawberries need sunshine to ripen, but if it starts to get hot, know that your strawberry window is beginning to close.

2014-05-31 Evelyn Ryan

People want to know if it’s okay for kids to eat strawberries in the fields, and Farmer Dave once told me it was okay.  That said, there is a big difference between a toddler nibbling on one precious strawberry, and a teenager mowing through dozens of strawberries that belong to someone else (the farmer).  Obviously, the important thing is to teach children that strawberries are precious, and should not be thrown on the ground or carelessly dropped off the back of a wagon.

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Real Food Comes from Sunshine, and Dirt.

Strawberries are on the dirty dozen list, and many people ask if the strawberries are organic.  They are not, as it is difficult to grow organic strawberries at scale.  The best way to get organic strawberries is to be first in line at your local farmer’s market, or grow them yourself. Thies Farm is often spotted hanging out with EarthDance Farms, which is a stamp of organic approval.  Here’s what Farmer Dave has to say their IPM (Integrated Pest Management) practices. https://www.facebook.com/notes/thies-farm-greenhouses/integrated-pest-management/281999848483956

Thies Farm

Now in three locations!

Strangely, when researching the topic of eating strawberries fresh from the fields, it turns out that the greatest danger from strawberries comes from people “fingering” the strawberries in the grocery store, which is why strawberries now come in those clam-shell containers.  Gross!  As they say “dirt is not dirty, people are dirty;” so fear not the innocent strawberry in the field.

That's me, Jessie, and Virginia

That’s me, Jessie, and Virginia

 

As a nature teacher and busy mother, I encourage you to learn more about the many complex issues surrounding, say, the simple act of strawberry picking. In my estimation, the experience of picking strawberries as children is so indelible, and so important, that it might well be considered part of a “true core curriculum”.

 

2014-05-31 Kevin, Miles, Amanda, Evelyn Ryan Family

 

Nature education, because it occupies the long arc of a child’s life, (along with character development and spiritual practice), resides firmly in the family responsibility camp, and so it’s our job as parents to take the kids strawberry picking at least once. However, it is also true that whole classrooms often follow Green Spiral into the strawberry fields as a joyous end of year celebration, and schools can easily find their part to play in raising the ecoliteracy level of their community.

 

Strawberry Zentangle

Strawberry Zentangle

 

So put strawberry picking on your map, and make sure kids don’t grow up without strawberry picking at least once.  Take lots of pictures, and before you go, think about what will happen in the kitchen, and work backwards from there.

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