Well, when Papa Gene sent an email early in the week and invited Grace and I to go strawberry picking and then out to lunch we had to say “Yes!” We planned for Friday, and after Grace’s homeschool P.E. class, we drove out to Papa Gene’s house, who then drove us another mile or so further to Salem Berry Farm near the intersection of Lynnhaven and Salem Rds.
There are quite a few berry farms out in Pungo, a region where Ralph’s mom, Midge lives. Pungo is in the rural Southeastern portion of Virginia Beach, and many of the farms are more than an hour away from us. The farmer who owns Salem Berry Farms has another farm out that way as well, but he wisely decided to put a stand and a small pick-your-own-field in Kempsville which isn’t as far of a drive. For Grace and I driving from Norfolk, it was 25 minutes instead of 45, and with gas at ridicularious prices, the closer farm wins! To make this fun outing educational too, I printed off a few pages about Strawberries, both wild and cultivated, from Anna Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study, and Grace and I read over it at breakfast. This gave her a few things to look for when we got to the field.
The weather was gorgeous! The size of the strawberry field is modest, but there were plenty of berries, and lots of lovely white blossoms, green berries, and buds in various stages of berry formation. So, strawberries will be in abundance for next week’s harvesters too! We took a few moments to study the leaves, berries, blossoms and buds. We also looked under the plants for runners, which along with the “seeds” on the outside of the strawberry, called achenes, are the two ways strawberries propagate. I took some pictures so we could sketch when we got home.
It didn’t take us long at all to gather a tupperware container full of strawberries. We turned them over to be weighed and were amazed that we’d picked 4 lbs! Papa Gene paid for the berries and a nice fat bunch of Asparagus that we later grilled for dinner (Thanks, Papa Gene!), and then we headed to Five Guys for lunch!
Since our excursion we treated ourselves to strawberries for breakfast over waffles, strawberry smoothies, and strawberries over Blue Bunny Vanilla Ice Cream (THE BEST VANILLA ice cream in the world) with chocolate sauce. I froze some too. The fresh berries were gone pretty quickly - no pictures. We ate them up before I thought to grab one! Picking strawberries with Papa Gene was a fun outing! Papa Gene, Grace and I decided we must plan to pick blueberries when they come in, and drive out to Knotts Island for peaches later in the summer!
Anna Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study is in the public domain. It’s a large download, but then you can read or print the sections you need for whatever plant, animal or element of nature you’re interested in studying. Click HERE for a link to the Internet Archive.
What little I know about Nature Study, I learned from another homeschooling mom, Barb, and her tremendously helpful blog: Handbook of Nature Study, which offers a free helpful monthly newsletter, blog posts with study ideas, as well as ebook curriculum.