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Pickin’ Blueberries

The book Last Child in the Woods keeps popping up across my radar. I haven’t actually read it, though due to the fact I keep stumbling across references to it, I probably should. The premise seems pretty obvious to me- kids these days have lost connectivity to the outdoors. Kids these days. Hasn’t every generation used that catch phrase as an excuse? I hate to think I am turning into an old, biased adult, shaking a finger while recanting the ‘when I was a kid’ stories about how much better/worse/different/enlightened I had it. Regardless, how my kids have it is far, far different than how I experienced childhood. In connection to outdoors, space, food, the environment, I have been mulling a lot of these experiential chasms lately. I am staunchly set on ensuring my kids understand and are immersed with nature and the outdoors. Partially selfish so my girls grow up not batting an eye at backpacking for 4 days through the woods without a shower and know how to cook meals with produce they grew themselves without a microwave? Probably.

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Anyways, I have purposefully filled this summer with Farm and Food production activities and education. From our own backyard Urban Agriculture to Library resources to hitting up some of the local U-pick farms, it has been really awesome to see their excitement and understanding surrounding growing things. A few weeks ago we headed out to Bellevue to a local Blueberry farm, of which there are two within a 10-minute drive from our house. We have done U-Pick Raspberries, but that was several summers ago and way out in Carnation, so I have really appreciated these resources to be so much closer. At $1.25 a pound, the berries are far cheaper (and far more fun to pick!) than their store-bought counterparts. So we headed out with friends for an afternoon in the fields.

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I have to say, Blueberries are far harder to pick than Raspberries. Maybe it was just because we were there fairly early season. But all the bushes are tall, so Toddlers were unable to reach very many and therefore rather unengaged in the process. My unrealistic expectation was that we just might get close to 10lbs of berries. The previous U-pick experience in my mind I came home with over 5lbs of Raspberries, but didn’t calculate that I now had three young children to contend with rather than one strapped to my back content so long as she was eating all the berries I handed to her. Thank goodness they didn’t weigh her before and after, I don’t think I had that much cash on me.

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This time, however, Tallis was really punky. She was hungry, she was tired, she was thirsty, she wanted to go home. At least until we sat down to eat lunch then prepared to go home, she then wanted to go pick Blueberries. Right… guess I planned that one in the wrong order.

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Araiya really liked picking the berries. I think next time we go she will be able to help out quite a bit. She had to be in charge of carrying the buckets and organizing the bags full of the day’s harvest.

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In the end, I paid $1.35 for our load of berries (that’s just over a pound, no where close to my lofty goal of 10). I think we need another shot at this. A morning trip might be more fruitful (pun intended). We would for sure recommend going purely for the experience, whether positive or negative. Beyond this being one activity for one day, the berries lasted us more than a week and my girls got to participate in cooking with what they helped pick. If you are interested in pursuing the ideas contained the Last Child in the Woods dubbed “Nature-Deficit Disorder”, here is a short (and biased) commentary I came across which poses some intriguing questions worth throwing around. Do you agree or struggle with the issue of your kids and their interaction with the great outdoors?

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