Farm Fresh Fridays

My husband and I are both a little schizo when it comes to where we prefer to live. Part city dwellers/part beach addicts, the one place we swore we'd never live is exactly where we are living: the 'burbs. We've been here for 4 years now, and love it. It takes us 15-40 min to get to downtown depending on traffic, 1 and a half hours to get to the beach, 2 minutes to get to the countryside, and 2-15 minutes to get to our favorite vineyards. One of the benefits of living in Portland, Oregon is the abundance of fresh, mostly organic ingredients pretty much everywhere you go; one of the benefits of living where we do in particular is our proximity to dozens of different farms. Farmers markets are great, but they're too overwhelming for our son, and it's no fun for me to spend the entire time chasing my daughter in crowded areas (she will not stand for being contained in a stroller or carrier). And while we've bought produce from our neighboring farms before, we've never gone there with the specific goal of teaching our kids about where food comes from and talking with the farmers about what they do.

So on a whim the other night, I decided it would be fun to do Farm Fresh Fridays with the kids. Each Friday, we're going to be visiting a different farm near our house and learning more about where food comes from by chatting with the different owners/farm workers. Today was the first day of this little experiment, and I am so pleased with our little adventure. First stop: the Schlichting Century Farm, one of the few that are open already to the public for the summer.

It's still pretty early in the season, so the kids were able to see little sprouts of different vegetables cropping up in the farm, but most of our time was spent in the farm's general store. It's overflowing with beautiful flowers, vegetable starts, and hazelnuts, honey and jams made from the farm's (and other local farms') bounty. The women there were very helpful and informative. I love that my kids can learn about where food comes from in its actual place of origin (for the most part). The best part about this place for the kids: The Coop. It's like a big chicken coop except instead of real chickens it's filled with the coolest metal sculptures of roosters, pigs, horses, and other farm animals. My kids could have honestly stayed in The Coop all day.

In the end, we went home with basil and mint plants, strawberries, garlic and corn. The kids were hungry & excited to dig in, so lunch consisted of strawberries with mint and basil, corn with basil lime garlic butter and some Tillamook cheese we picked up. Nothing exciting, but the kids gobbled it up and the best part was when my son declared "Food tastes so much better when it's fresh, mom." Uh, yes it does son, yes it does. A concept he doesn't quite get so easily from the store or even the farmers market, but it clearly resonated from visiting the farm today and then creating a meal with what we picked up. Again, we've done this before, but never with the clear purpose of teaching my kids and it made a surprising difference.

We may not do Farm Fresh Friday every week (f0r instance, my son & I have already talked about doing a Firefighter Friday where we go visit a fire station), but we're going to try. There are berry farms, vegetable farms, nurseries, llama & alpaca farms, dairy farms, nut farms, and vineyards all around us. I'm excited for my kids to see the places we've been visiting the past few years in a different light, and to get to know our local farms even better.


ml said...

I LOVE IT! You are living out Barbara Kingsolver's dream! (Have you read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle?)

And we can also affirm E's statement about fresh being better. Neither of my girls like lettuce, but when we are outside picking it fresh from our little patch in the backyard, they both devour it! We'd love to join you on a future farm adventure. So glad you enjoyed your Friday.

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Cecily R said...

I really really really need to visit Portland! My cousin (Black Sheep Bakery) keeps telling me I need to come...your post makes me want to even more!

I love Firefighter Friday idea...especially if you post a picture of you in a plastic firefighter hat! :)

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Debbie said...

What a great idea to do with your kids! I love it.
Dropped by from SITS.

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marlynn said...

ml - come on out with us anytime!
cecily - yes, when exactly ARE you coming to Portland to visit?! I thought you were going to ask me to post a photo of the firemen for Firefighter Friday... :)
Debbie- thanks for the visit! I dig your blog too & look forward to reading more!

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