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Categories: Family Fun

After recently getting into an online debate about the merits of buying local produce and whether or not governments have an obligation to follow suit, I began to realize that in the midst of this debate was a great educational opportunity for my children.

While my own children know that there are many farms near to where we live, they don't have a full appreciation for the reasons as to why it?s great to support local food. With that in mind and given that we were right in the middle of Strawberry picking season we decided to head out to a pick your own farm to pick some Strawberries of our own.

We decided to pick at random one of the many area farms that provide pick your own opportunities and head out. Our choice was the Rose Family Farm located in Mount Albert, ON which is about 15 minutes east of Newmarket and 45 minutes northeast of downtown Toronto. The Rose Family Farm has been a family farm amazingly since 1840 and current proprietor, Wilfred Rose represents the 5th generation of the Rose family to maintain the property.

I had a chance to speak with Mr. Rose and ask him about his property as well as to why people should support local farms wherever they are. I found him to be a genuine and personable man who, while humble was happy to talk to me:

While out in the fields it was very quickly apparent that the kids were really enjoying themselves. One of the things about picking Strawberries is that often the biggest and the best need to be found by searching into the bushes. Kids always enjoy having to seek out things and this was no different. Every minute I could hear one of them yelling ?Oh My God! I found a motherload berry!?

My daughter, who is not yet two wasn?t as aware as to what was going on as were her older brothers, but my wife and I just loved watching her eagerly take berries and put them into the basket.

During our time in the fields my wife and I also took the chance to tell our kids that these berries will be on our table later today which means that it has spent less time being trucked across the continent to get to the supermarket. We told them that if we supported local farmers as often as we could, we would remove trucks from our highways, which is something that is ultimately good for our environment.

We were amazed at how quickly time went by while picking and before we knew it we had picked about 15 pounds of amazingly succulent and delicious strawberries. The bonus is that these Strawberries, which were amazingly juicy and incredibly tasty were ONLY $1.50 A POUND when we picked our own which is less than what we would pay for imported berries at our supermarket which are sadly promoted far more than are our local versions.

When we returned home it took me about an hour or so to wash, slice and package our haul. We now have Strawberries for jams, pies and for topping on top of pancakes, waffles, ice cream and so much more! (my wife and I are especially looking forward to enjoying the sliced berries that have been soaking in rum for the last 24 hours?but I digress).

If you are looking for an educational, entertaining and sustainable way to spend a few hours with your family, I can?t recommend highly enough that you take your family out to a pick-your-own farm and enjoy the amazing local bounty found close to home. Now if you?ll excuse me, I have some amazing Strawberries to enjoy!

Eric Novak is a father of 4 who also thinks that environmental stewardship is a requisite of parenting. He's not a professional Dad nor is he an environmental scientist, but he's someone who gives a damn and is trying to make the right decisions as he lives his life as a father, environmentalist and business owner. Eric and his wife Karen have 4 children and reside in Ajax, Ontario. Visit his new website at