Strawberries, harvested

Strawberries, harvested

Today the girls and I went to Red Fire Farm, the organic farm that provides our vegetable CSA. The bulk of the CSA comes to us in the form of a weekly drop-off at the Growing Center, but we also have an open invitation to go pick some crops at the farm. It’s a long drive, almost two hours. It takes a lot to get me to drive that far with my kids, and this was totally worth it.

In addition to the amazing strawberries we picked, we also got peas, herbs and seedlings (we had to pay for the seedlings, but they were very reasonably priced. one might even say cheap, at about $1.75 apiece).

I had heard rave reviews of Red Fire, which prompted me to sign up with them even though they’re a little pricier than some of the other local CSAs. So far, my experience says it is all true. They really do put out more diverse food, and higher quality produce.

Our first week of the CSA brought us a wide variety of vegetables, not just an avalanche of greens like we’ve had with other farms. We got cilantro, kale, turnips, beets, spinach, green garlic and, yes, two heads of lettuce (but one of those was red!).

The farm trip really put it over the top though. The farm is idyllically beautiful, with pockets of woods breaking up verdant fields and a big, big sky. Being there felt like an opportunity to breathe more deeply and be more fully alive in my senses. It also gave me a great excuse to spend an afternoon alone with my girls, something I do surprisingly rarely considering I’m their full-time caregiver. It feels like we are so often socializing or learning or enriching that we’re rarely just on an adventure together.

We all had a blast, even when the thunderclouds actually broke out into pouring rain on top of us in the middle of picking our peas. We had our raincoats, and it turns out we’re all waterproof. It turns out Rio is an expert strawberry picker. She had a great eye for spotting clumps of truly ripe strawberries, and was diligent about staying inside the lines of the open pick-your-own field (unlike her Mama, who was occasionally lured under the string into the closed off section full of ripe berries). Serena is still at the nibble-and-toss stage of berry picking. She carried a basket around with her for most of the time, and put a few berries in it. Some of them might even have ended up in our stock pot.

My kitchen counter is now ensconced with two gallons of freshly picked strawberries, a flat of jam jars and a few boxes of pectin. Recipe suggestions welcome. I’ve never canned anything before, so tomorrow will be a whole new iteration of adventure. Today all I managed was tying up the herbs we picked at the farm to dry and setting the seedlings out in the garden so they’ll be easy to plant tomorrow.

I’m sure we’ll go back to the farm later in the summer to get a wild abundance of tomatoes. In the meantime, I expect to keep enjoying our weekly haul from the CSA.