The one on the left?

The one on the left?

First a Quiz, and then the Lesson:

Guess which strawberry was locally grown, and which was imported?

Guess which was bred for size; and which for travel?

And finally, guess which one tastes better?

You’ll have to try this out at home to find out for sure!

But first, you’ll have to pick some local strawberries…

Strawberry Fields Forever...

Strawberry Fields Forever…

Many thanks to Thies Farms for posting the clever cut strawberries on their Facebook Page — Green Spiral Tours has hosted six field trips to Thies Farms, and recommends Thies Farms as the best place in Saint Louis to pick local strawberries!  Hot tip: watch for Strawberry Festival Day, when they bring out the tractor & wagon to help ferry folks to the fields.

Kids, especially little boys, love it!

Hop on board the strawberry wagon!

Hop on board the strawberry wagon!

Always call first, and go early to beat the heat and the crowds.  Here’s the GPS address, and because Thies Farms now has three locations, be careful to head for the MARYLAND HEIGHTS location, near Creve Coeur Lake and SportPort.

3120 Maryland Heights Expressway; 63146

(Formerly known as 3120 Creve Coeur Mill Road; 63146)

314-469-7559

Here’s the Thies web-site with location and hours; and here’s the Thies Farms Facebook Page.

Check out earlier Green Spiral posts about picking strawberries at Thies Farms, beginning with the end in mind, including a strawberry misadventure, plus a lesson on how to catch toads in the strawberry fields.

Pick Me!

Pick Me!

If you’re looking for a more rustic and utterly charming strawberry experience, head for Lakeview Farms in St. Peters.

Lakeview Farms is a small operation, you’re driving along, driving along between strip malls, and suddenly boom, a little open space appears with this little sign on the fence:

Strawberry Farm, Turn Left!

Strawberry Farm, Turn Left!

Here’s the GPS address, and again, always call first, as even strawberry fields get tired, and sometimes have to take a nap! The nice thing about Lakeview is that they will let you pick berries in the rain.

Also, make sure your GPS says MEXICO ROAD, as apparently, there are two Lakeview Farms in the area.  People find these things out the hard way, but make special note, and you won’t have to:

Lakeview Farms

8265 Mexico Road; St. Peters 63376

(636) 978-8830

Here’s the web-site to the farm and here’s the strawberry report. And here’s Farmer Karl with a paying customer:

Ask Farmer Karl!

Ask Farmer Karl!

As mentioned, this is a small operation, so don’t expect any porta potties, and bring cash. While picking at Thies Farms is somewhat of a free-for-all, at Lakeview Farms, you will be guided to your own special strawberry patch, marked with a flag, and only because farmers know that each little strawberry is precious, and to be treasured.  It costs about $1.60 for a quart of strawberries, or $10 for a flat like this:

Take me home!

Take me home!

Don’t forget to bring hats, water and your rubber boots.  Oops, we did it again! We got into trouble!

Turns out, it’s not a good idea to let kids climb on tractors.  This is a real farm, and I reckon somebody could get hurt.

Oops, we did it again!

Oops, we did it again!

The strawberry picking window is short and sweet; and the chance to pick strawberries with kids might be even shorter and sweeter; so once school lets out, turn your thoughts immediately to picking strawberries and get those kids out into the fields!  Take lots of pictures and start taking in the good…

All for you!

Good for you!

Don’t let kids grow up without picking strawberries!

“More fun than an iPad” says this three year old!

Here’s your 3 second parting shot of Bix singing “Strawberry Bad Guys Forever…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZddxKyCHJ0&feature=youtu.be

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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.

100_3676

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.