Thursday, December 22, 2011

If this place ever goes out of business I will seriously cry tears of pure misery...

We live in a very rural part of South Florida. We've got one gas station, one grocery store, and a good 15 minute drive to anything resembling a real shopping situation.

There are times when I lament that 15 minute drive. Like, when the kids have a birthday party to go to right down the street but I have to drive all the way "in to town" to pick up a birthday gift. Or when I have to find a replacement tree stand 5 days before Christmas. You're getting the idea.

But most of the time I absolutely love where we live. I love that we still have roadside stands for all kinds of things from dreamcatchers to cheesecakes. I love that when I go to the grocery store people smile and say hi. I love that my kids go to a good school where all the teachers know them. I love that Bug fishes in canals with his friend who lives right up the street and Munchkin can ride horses all day long just a few minutes away.

And lately, I love our new U Pick It farm.

There was always a U Pick It farm located there, but before it was just strawberries. And it was just U Pick It. Now some new owners have renovated the place and it's all kinds of veggies and herbs and everything you could ever want. And you don't have to pick it yourself, they have a little market.

I went there for the first time about a month ago and I was blown away by everything they had. Almost everything is grown right there on the farm, but they bring in other stuff they can't grow, too. I picked up locally grown lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, and watermelon. I also grabbed some apples and grapes. I think my total was something like $8. Which is so amazing I almost cried.

Since then I haven't bought any produce at Publix. It's all from the U Pick It farm. And I am a happy happy camper. Saturday I stopped in after their posted closing time and they were happy to let me shop. I hadn't seen any fresh herbs in the market before so I asked the wonderful lady who runs the market if she had any. She was happy to walk across the farm and snip me some fresh basil and parsley. I can't even explain to you how amazing those herbs smelled in my van. I nearly stuck my head in the bag. And the bruschetta I made with those herbs and the fresh tomatoes I bought at the same time? TO DIE FOR.

So when they had a Ladybug Release party last weekend I was geared up to go release some ladybugs on the farm. Evidently, ladybugs eat other bugs that are harmful to the crops. So they invited the community to come out and help them release a whole giant mega mess of ladybugs.

When we walked outside of the market the kids were each handed a brown paper sack full of ladybugs.

After all of our ladybugs were free as cheezy bread, we decided to walk around and look at the other parts of the farm. I was really eager to see what else was growing in there since we had only been in the strawberry portion. So we wandered a bit to see what we could find.

 Just before we went into the market to purchase an apple for Munchkin and a few honeysticks for The Man and the kids, we stopped at the bounce houses that were available for all the kids on ladybug release day.

It was a truly wonderful family day. Perfect weather and a perfect activity. I feel so lucky to have such a wonderful place right down the street. Maybe you have a great farm like this local to you, too. If so, I highly suggest it. Nothing tastes better than produce that's off the plant and on to your table in less than a few hours. And how wonderful to be able to support local businesses like this!