I have been HANGING OUT to have a “Pick your Own” Family Day for years and years. It seems like I have an internal alarm to remember at the END of each growing season, and then get upset as we have missed out on the harvest. Being a lover of growing my own food, picking my own is also really high on my list when I get the chance too. I’m lucky that even though I live in boring suburbia, there are a stack of orchards and farms just a day trip away, ready to fill my pockets with organically grown, local (or so), fresh produce. ooh laa laa!
So. This week I thought – lets do it! Himself had a day off, its still school holiday time, the girls and I are desperate for an excuse to exit the house……why the hell not?
Indeed! Why not go fruit picking on the hottest day Sydney has EVER seen? When the temp guage reached 47 Deg C at our house (in outer-suburbia)??? No worries!!! Go traipsing through acres of orchards with hardly any shade??? Why the hell not?!!! So, we hopped in the car and headed for Bilpin, in the mountains, on the semi-rural outskirts of Sydney, where the temperature only got to a top of 45deg C (phhhhh!!!!) and even though it was hot – had the most fabulous, cool breeze wafting through the orchards for most of the time we were there. Honestly – even though it was very warm – it was LOVELY!.
Obviously we are at the end of the summer season, the orchards only fully opening their doors to the PYO crowd after they have done the main harvest for themselves. Still, there was PLENTY of fruit to be had and we all had such a lovely day! Miss N was a bit miffed having to walk so far (and despised having to act as Pack Mule #3, since we had our camera bag, 2 x PYO fruit carry bags, 4 x water bottles etc) however Miss Z LOVED it! She delighted in saying “Apple” and pointing at each and ervery tree, even though the Apples were minimal (Apple season is just starting here) and there were really only Peaches, Nectarines and Blood Plums to be had. She would not be told that they were not an apple but a stone fuit….mmmm. More lessons to be learned I fear!!!
We didn’t overdo it – only picking enough for ourselves for the next week or so. I don’t have time to do a stack of preserving and this time around it was more about the experience than the haul:) Even though there was a lot of complaining from Miss N at the time – she did say later that it was a good idea for a day out (Yay Mummy!). Looking at the amount of trees and varieties of fruits available, we will be booking in another trip during the upcoming season to pick our fill of Apples, Pears and Quinces and this time I will get enough to bottle up and keep.
I really had such a great time. I felt proud of myself for forcing the family out, taking a rudimentary picnic lunch and spending a bit of cash on buying fresh, tasty produce that supports my local growers. I really would love to do that sort of thing more often. We spent $16 and have enough fruit to support our family of four easily for the next 2 weeks. There is no way I would get the same amount (not to mention quality) of fruit in my local grocers or supermarket for that amount of money.
I urge every single one of you to go and check out your local area (and by that – I mean up to 3 or so hrs drive in any direction) to see if there are similar producers you can support and who will in turn (by providing you with cheaper, fresher and most probably healthier produce) support you. You can also check out the Pick Your Own website, which has a great list of PYO locations, both in Australia and many other locations worldwide.
Meet you in an orchard soon?