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 means it's shearing festival time!
Locally, Drumlin Farm and Gore Place celebrate sheepshearing season with big shindigs. (It’s not that strange, really—think of the big deal you made about your child’s first haircut.) If you want to make a fun family day trip or even a weekend getaway out of it, there are also sheepshearing and wool festivals in nearby Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Western Massachusetts.
While you're enjoying your Thanksgiving turkey, you might be dreaming of the next holiday on the horizon. So digest, and head out soon to find that perfect tree, because most of the farms open this very weekend! Check out our list of Christmas tree farms and don’t forget to check the Mommy Poppins Holiday Fun Guide for even more festive ideas to get you and your family into the holiday mood!
Nothing says fall in New England like a family excursion to the apple orchards. With many orchards to choose from, families can head a short distance from Boston for their choice of places to pick their own apples starting in early September through mid-October.
We’ve assembled a list of some of our favorite places to pick apples near Boston, but with over 50 farms in the area offering apple picking, there are many more to choose from. In addition to apple picking, many of the orchards offer petting farms, country stores, hay rides, corn mazes, and other kid-friendly activities, so leave plenty of time to take advantage of all these farms have to offer. You can also plan your child's fall farm birthday party at some of the farms.
And if you're looking for some ideas for what to do with all those apples, we've put together some of our favorite apple recipes for inspiration!
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. Check back later in the summer for our updated blueberry picking post.
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.
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