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U-Pick Tomatoes

April 15, 2012

Yesterday was a gorgeous Florida day–highs in the eighties, light cloud cover but mostly sunny, and a cool breeze.  My husband had to work, so I took the opportunity of picking up my mom and taking the girls to the country to pick some tomatoes.  This was our first u-pick experience together.  The farm we went to is well set-up for it.  It’s called Hunsader Farms, and every year they have an annual Pumpkin Festival in the fall.  It’s a gorgeous location, about a forty five minute drive from our suburbs across the Skyway bridge.  The Skyway bridge connects Pinellas and Manatee counties, and crosses over a gorgeous ocean view that makes it an enjoyable drive.  Once we got out to farm country, the air was so delicious and fresh I couldn’t help but take in great gulps of it.  The girls in the back seat were getting restless, but we kept pointing out boats, windsurfers, fishermen, cows and horses in the fields and other items of interest to keep them engaged.

After signing in at the farm and grabbing some bags to gather tomatoes, we drove out to the field that was open for picking and jumped out of the car.  The girls were excited at this new adventure and had to be prepped on the rules.  Mommy does the picking and we don’t pick up tomatoes on the ground.  Quickly I found them each a small ripe tomato to munch on, and they happily dug their faces into the novelty of a delicious tomato right off the vine.   Tomatoes taste a hundred times better picked fresh than from the grocery store.  They are better here in Florida where the fields are closer to the stores and they are in season more often, but they are still not the same as fresh picked.  There’s something about a fresh picked tomato that makes it the most heavenly experience.  When I was a child my dad and I always had an organic garden growing in our back yard in the summer, and fresh tomatoes were my absolute favorite treat.  I would gorge myself on them until I had no more room for supper.

After running around for about a hour, we had three large bags full to the brim of tomatoes–including a few select green ones for making fried green tomatoes.  Each bag is tremendously heavy, probably thirty or forty pounds if I had to guess based on comparing one bag to picking up my three year old.  The next few days will be filled with canning salsa, diced tomatoes, marinara sauce, and anything else I can think of in addition to the fried green tomatoes I need to make.

The farm we visited also has a small selection of farm animals you can view and feed in a simple petting zoo–including emus, goats, sheep, chickens and a few others.  We took some time to enjoy the animals with the girls, and much to the delight of their grandmother, then headed off to get lunch at a local restaurant.  Before eating, I went to wash my hands, and four rounds of soaping got enough tomato vine juice and dirt off of them to sit down to a well-deserved meal.

I love getting the girls out into the sunshine and fresh air.  Second best to nature as God made it, getting them out to a farm or other place like that is awesome.  They loved running around through the fields and picking the flowers that grew between the tomato rows.  They never seem more like the little girls they are than when they are running from flower to flower to pluck them and put them up to their noses to smell.

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From → canning, Food, Motherhood

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