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Pick and Read at the Blueberry Farm

BY BETH BECKMAN | www.lilkidbigcity.com

Welcome to Terhune Orchards. Located just outside Princeton New Jersey, this wonderful family farm has been run and operated by the Mount family since 1975. With over 200 acres of fruit and vegetables, ample U-Pick and children’s programming– this gorgeous farm is a must visit for a day of farm fresh produce and discovery. From wholesome fruit to vegetable crops, farm festivals, and even barnyard animals, it is a special place to experience a day on the farm.

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What makes this farm even more special is the popular Read & Pick children’s program. Read and Pick is an innovative program for families that combines a hands-on farm activity with a story reading. The story highlights the fruit or farm area activity for the day, and helps to engage and excite the children even further about the topic. After, friendly staff then explain about how crops grow and how to pick them, and then assist the families with that specific activity out in their farm.

Read & Pick offers experiences with picking strawberries, peaches, apples, pumpkins, and more. We were lucky enough to recently participate in the blueberry Read & Pick program. What an amazing experience!

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The Read & Pick program is offered on Tuesdays and takes place in a tent right in the middle of the gorgeous farm grounds. With open grass and the bountiful farm as the backdrop, the setting was absolutely magical. Lil Kid was ecstatic to join with other children to learn more about one of his favorite fruits – the blueberry.

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Reuwai was so fantastic and engaging with the children. She opened the session by having the children do a little stretch activity – reach way up high, then way back down to the ground – all in practice for the picking adventure that awaited! She playfully asked the children – “What is everyone going to do with their picked blueberries?” The children happily replied “eat them!” Reuwai took it a step further – “How about baking with them? Possibly blueberry muffins? A smoothie?” Loved how she stimulated their imaginations and taste buds. The children’s eyes lit up with possibility and excitement.

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Today’s story selections: The amazing classic Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey and Jamberry by Bruce Degen.

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Love the wonderful children’s classic Blueberries for Sal – such a perfect story for today’s adventure. Reuwai made the stories so fun and lively – engaging with the story and asking questions to the children along the way. “What do you think is behind the rock? Is it Sal’s Mom?” The children replied with eager answers and interest. Loved the way she made the book come alive for the children. A wonderful experience and memory of the classic tale that will stay with the children (and myself) forever.

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Between books – a lesson in fruit itself. Reuwai asked – “What is a blueberry before it’s a berry?” Some of the children yelled in excitement – “A seed! A flower!” It was so cute to see their involvement, and genuine interest in learning about fruit. The discussion continued into other fruits along with a demonstration of each. She held up an apple. “Is this a fruit?” She asked the kids. “YES!” The children yelled. Next a squash, and then tomato. “Those are vegetables”, some children yelled. Reuwai explained that they are actually fruit –and that technically anything with a seed inside is considered a fruit. She then cut open each of the variety and showed to children the seeds. Such an amazing learning experience and lesson.

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Continuing with the stories – Jamberry!

Everyone’s favorite – the children all cheered along with the story “One berry, two berry, pick me a blueberry!” Such a perfect story for today’s adventure. How wonderful to hear a collective cheer for fruit.

Next – time for blue berry picking! She asked, “Who here likes blueberries?” All the children screamed, “ME!” in delight. Reuiwai explained that birds do too – and that’s why their blueberries are kept under a net to protect them from birds.

She also offered a quick lesson on blueberry picking. What to look for in color, and how to tell if they are ripe. Look for blue, not purple, not green! Need to be Blue! The children were ready.

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Each grabbed a carefully laid out fruit container and headed for the fields.

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The blueberry bushes were lush and beautiful in the summer sun.

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Lil Kid immediately located the perfect berry. “This one is blue mommy!”

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The blueberries were spectacular. It was such an amazing experience to search through the bountiful bushes, looking for ripe berries to fill our baskets.

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Sneaking a bite. The berries were incredible – perfectly ripe, bright in flavor and taste, and delicious!

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Little hand, perfect berry.

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Nothing more magical than spending time with little ones on the farm. Loved watching his wonder and discovery.

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Soon our container was full!

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What an amazing picking adventure!

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After, we toured the rest of the farm. Such a beautiful property and environment. The pond was gorgeous and magical.

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A farm visit isn’t complete without a visit with farm friends. Lil Kid loved meeting the friendly goats and sheep that call Terhune Orchards home.

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A quick tractor ride! Terhune orchards has a small playground filled with wonderful ways for children to play right on site. Lil Kid especially climbed right aboard the John Deere wooden tractor – such a delight!

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Moo! How fun – a faux making cow! Lil Kid sat right on the small step stool and tried his hand as a milk man. Such a great learning activity for kids.

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Included in the learning activities was an on-site game shed for kids. Loved the crop rotation game teaching children about how farms need to rotate crops for and helps keep the soil healthy. Did you know that corn and beans are perfect soil friends? Corn eats the nitrogen in the soil, while beans add nitrogen back to the soil. How cool is that! It was so fun to learn about crop rotation with the fun wall game.

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A quick stop in the farm market to pick up a few things for dinner! The colorful produce and aisles were a treat to discover.

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Thank you Terhune Orchards for such a wonderful experience!

More information on Terhune Orchards and their Read and Pick program HERE (link to:  http://terhuneorchards.com/read-pick-program/)

Fresh Kids is bringing the farm experience to New York City this fall! The Festival will teach kids through experiential play and activities, where food comes from, how food grows and lessons of sustainability. Most important, kids will taste and enjoy healthful good foods in a fun, festive and safe environment. The Festival serves as a community benefit to raise awareness and funds for non-profit organizations working in NYC to fight childhood obesity, hunger and poor nutrition.

A reading orchard with a curated collection of farm fresh and healthy books will be just one of the many farm experiences for children at the Farm Fresh Festival on September 17th, in Manhattan’s South Street Seaport neighborhood. Find more information on the amazing Farm Fresh Festival HERE.

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