Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"Go" Local at Harvest Time

Even before our kids were born I would drag..actually he was pretty husband a bit west of here to Camino, CA...otherwise known as Apple Hill. We would embark on a day of pumpkin purchasing, wine & beer tasting, and sweet treat munching. We have had to alter our agenda a bit, but we still take our children out and about locally to find the perfect pumpkin and partake in the fall delicacies that accompany apple, pear, etc season.

With children our day starts much earlier as we have to squeeze in activities before nap time as well as to beat the traffic up the hill. We utilize the Apple Hill Growers website , map, and calendar of events to plan our day. Here's some of our favorite stops and why:

> Abels Apple Acres: Easy access off Highway 50. Great Apple doughnuts and fritters to start the morning off good and sugary. To occupy the kids there are horse and pony rides, a hay maze, and pumpkin patch. And in years past you can find a balloon artist making hats, swords, ladybugs, etc for your tips. And a year after year photo spot at the Johnny Appleseed Growth tree. Lots of crafters are also on site. My favorite take-home item from here is their apple dumplings with cinnamon sauce.

> Plubell's Family Orchard: Another great kid-friendly stop as it has a large petting zoo of farm animals. Several tractors to climb on and a rope/tire swing to try out. More crafters...a lot with kids focus as well as clown performances throughout the day as well as the regular pumpkin patch. Here you might find a local boy scout troop or other kids organization happy to haul your pumpkins to your car via a red wagon for a small tip. Our munchable here are the caramel dipped on the spot apples.

> Grandpa's Cellar: Is actually next door to Plubell's and can be gotten to via a nature trail between the two properties and is often a good way to get there and burn off some munchkin sugar. Grandpa's is all about the yummy baked goods. I never leave Apple Hill without their sugar free Streudel. They also offer tours through the weekdays, a kid special lunch deal, plenty of picnic space under beautiful old apple trees, and crafters.

These are just a few. There are 50+ ranches in the Grower's Assoc. All hosting amazing food, crafts, concerts, etc..

And just a bit more as I received some adorable photos from a high school/college friend with children the same age as mine yesterday and it brought memories of the harvests of my youth flooding back. So half way across the US in Indiana if I were to still live there with my kids here would be a couple of stops on my harvest tour list:

> The Pumpkin Train: Every toddler/preschoolers dream....a train ride combined with pumpkin patch, hay maze, petting zoo, and face painting. No wonder this event sells out. And it is a really great philanthropy...donated land and seed and FFA labor. A portion of the train tickets goes back to the partnered FFA chapter. Two trains depart daily.

> Huber's: Orchard & Winery has u-pick ventures nearly all year long for whatever is in-season and an amazing bake shop pumping out the sweet treats from those items. Weekends boost entertainment and just up the road is the Family Fun Park with animals and various motorized and non-motorized rides. This family run business established in 1843 also has a restaurant named after it's patriarch who just passed away this last summer. It's menu is packed full with the latest from the harvest. This is a reservation we make every time we are back in our homeland.

You'll be amazed at how much your children get from "going" local at harvest time. The kids love seeing exactly where the food comes from, so it is not only a learning experience, but a giving back to your local economy. And you never know...they may try a need veggie or fruit from the experience.

Please feel free to leave a comment and share your harvest stops where you live. With readers from nearly all of the states in the US as well as several countries it's a great way to share our favorites.

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