We're finally seeing signs of spring! On the farm at this time of year, there is new life everywhere, and the sheep are due for haircuts. That’s right, it’s sheepshearing festival time! Locally, Drumlin Farm and Gore Place make merry and have a whale of a shindig to celebrate. (It’s not that strange, think of the big deal you made about your child’s first haircut – I’ll bet you even kept a lock of hair from that momentous occasion.) If you can’t make it to the sheep shearing festivals in our area, or if your family just can’t get enough of the wooly animals, follow the festivals to Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Western Massachusetts and make a day – or even a weekend getaway – of it.
Local mom and “Outdoors with Kids Boston” guidebook author, Kim Foley MacKinnon, shares her best family outing tips and picks with you as part of our guest blog series with the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Kids Outdoors Bostonfree online community.
Lion, tigers and bears are all well and good, but sometimes all kids want to do is play like Old MacDonald and hang out with cows, pigs, and sheep. It makes sense, when you think about it: after all, among the first sounds and words we teach kids are moo, oink and baa. Countless books and songs feature life on the farm. Here are some great spots around New England to visit when the call of the barnyard beckons.
Fall is the perfect time for an outdoor celebration, and there’s no better place than a farm, where the harvest and happenings are plentiful. Whether your child is 2 or 12, a thrill-seeker or an animal lover, there’s a farm party package to fit almost every taste and budget. I’ve rounded up a few places just a short drive from Boston where your child can celebrate the big day with friends, family, and a whole lot of fun. Here are five farms that offer a range of options, including corn mazes, bouncy houses, hay rides, pumpkin decorating, apple picking, homemade gelato, and even a train ride to the party room!
Strawberries? Raspberries? Blueberries? Our family debate over which is the best berry may never be resolved, but that just may be because each time one of these berries is in season, it’s hard not to declare it the best. Our favorite this time of year? It’s the blueberry, by far.
Blueberries just may be the easiest fruit to pick, prepare and serve. No peeling, no pitting, no coring, no cutting. Apparently, they have few natural pests other than birds, so much is grown pesticide-free.
A few picking tips:
Select plump berries that are light gray-blue in color. White- and green-colored blueberries don’t ripen after they are picked, although those that have turned purple or blue may.
Blueberries hang on the bushes in bunches, and the easiest and fastest way to pick them is hold your bucket under the branch in one hand and with your other hand, cup a ripe bunch and gently rub them with your fingers. Ripe berries will drop into the bucket, while unripe ones remain attached to the bush.
Always call ahead to be sure the farm is open for picking
Bring your own buckets as they are not always provided
Be protected - sunscreen, hat, and clothes that can withstand some blueberry stains
The Pick-Your-Own blueberry season begins early July and continues through late August or early September. We’ve rounded up some farms in the Boston area which are beginning to open up for blueberry picking. Scroll to the end to find a recipe for our favorite blueberry breakfast/dessert/anytime snack - the classic blueberry buckle.
I spend the spring months eagerly awaiting opening day, not at Fenway, but at Adams Park, where on the first Saturday in June, the Roslindale Farmer’s Market begins its summer run. Our farmer’s market outings aren’t just for picking up extra groceries. They are the first sure sign of summer, long lazy mornings spent on picnic blankets watching our daughter play with her neighborhood friends. If you don’t have a local market or farm stand you call your own, check out Tara's post from a few weeks back, or one of these three urban/suburban oases.
I'm loving my CSA membership - such great, fresh fruits and vegetables every week. This week, we got a bonus - two empty quart containers and directions to the best field to pick our own strawberries. They were so abundant, I was told, that five minutes was all we'd need to fill a container!
In the realm of pick-your-own, I'm not sure there's a better fruit for kids to pick than the strawberry. The plants are low and close to the ground (no poles needed for reaching that just gotta have, high-up fruit). The plants are small, too, and the fruit is accessible, easy to get to without having to reach way into the plant. Ripe berries are clustered together, so kids have the satisfaction of picking a lot in a short period of time (just enough time so it doesn't get boring). And, no prickers!
June is “strawberry month", and most farms are open for picking by mid-month, but some are ready at the beginning of the month. Read on for farms where you can pick your own strawberries and tips for getting the most out of the experience. Be sure to scroll through to find out about some fabulous strawberry festivals, and check back later in the summer for our updated blueberry picking post.
There’s nothing quite like getting out of the city and heading to a farm with your little one on a warm spring day. The sounds of sirens are replaced with cock-a-doodle-do’s, the smell of bus exhaust with fresh hay, and the urban skyline with A-frame barns. There’s no place quite like Drumlin Farm in Lincoln for just such an experience - no matter what the season. Before you go, read on for 25 things to do with a preschooler and then check out Rachel's recommendations for pizza and ice cream nearby.
Springfield always surprises me with its rich culture, history and capacity for family fun. It is a city of firsts, and learning about its past may inspire your child to become a pioneer of the future. There is much to do in Greater Springfield, from riding roller coasters to enjoying a peaceful meeting with an alpaca. It’s just the right distance for a short getaway from Boston. Read on for 25 fun family activities to do while you’re there, whether it’s for a day or two, or more.
We're glad you're here at Mommy Poppins Boston, your free online resource for everything for families and kids in the greater Boston area. We'd love to hear from you with any questions or suggestions! — Tara