Today Little Cheap and I had an adventure in work, organics, good deals, buying locally and getting something for your dollar.
We drove up to Berry Patch Farms, a local organic pick-your-own farm. It’s in Brighton, about a half hour north of our house. The drive itself was bittersweet as we passed through farmland that is rapidly being converted to housing developments.
At the farm, we’d signed up for a “build a bat house” class. After some confusion, we were shipped off to the fields to pick berries while the farmer picked up some additional bat-house supplies.
Picking the berries was a great reminder of where our food comes from. As Little Cheap lackadaisically picked, popping berries into her mouth whenever she thought I wasn’t watching, I reminded her that a human hand picks every strawberry we ever eat. It’s hard, prickly, back-tiring work.
Because of the berry-in-mouth-popping, it was especially great to be at an organic farm, where I didn’t have to worry she would be poisoned by the fruit we planned to eat.
The prices were OK, too: $3.50 per quart. (If our quart baskets look rather sparse in the photo, it’s because we didn’t leave until after lunch, and the junior member of our picking team started scavenging from the baskets in the car.)
The bat house project cost $15. We got some basic supplies, including cedar boards (easier for little hands to hammer nails into and good for the weather) and a bit of nature education. Farmer Tim showed a video about insects, told us about the bats that live in the rafters of their barn, and let the kids look up close at two dear departed bat specimens who died in a tragic ceiling-fan incident, and whose bodies now are immortalized for science in Tim’s deep freeze.
While we were there, we also grabbed a pint of honey from the Berry Patch bees. We’re almost out at our house. Berry Patch charges $5.50 per pint of unprocessed honey. This is almost the same as we’d pay in a grocery store, but the farm gets all the proceeds. The honey is lovely — and some sources believe consuming local honey helps prevent seasonal allergies because, they say, it provides low levels of local pollens that boost immune response.
Back at home, I was pleased to see bees busily working in our own back yard. If you look closely, you can see two little bee bums poking out of these sage blossoms.
I spent 10 minutes watching the bees in this plant last weekend. The flowers are made for bees. The bees wriggle their bodies right inside a blossom, and when they’re finished, they squirm out backward and pause to clean themselves up, wiping the dusty pollen from their fuzzy sides. After a few flowers, they begin to stagger when they emerge, and soon they are off to take their bounty back home — a goal I could relate to by the time we left Berry Patch Farms today.
For those of you not in touch with spring cycles, here in Colorado, the Berry Patch Farms folks said strawberries are wrapping up their season and cherries will be available in about 10 days.