I have faint but fond memories of picking strawberries as a kid: the twisty, dusty gravel roads leading to the farm, being handed my very own big-girl pail by the strawberry lady and, most notably, sneaking mouthfuls when my mom wasn’t looking. 


Sure enough, when I take my own kids strawberry picking their pails remain suspiciously empty while the contrail of pink strawberry juice down their shirt front grows suspiciously bigger. We’ve since adopted tie-die T-shirts as our official strawberry picking uniform to hopefully camouflage the evidence. Otherwise, the farmer would probably start weighing my kids before and after they pick and charging us for what they ate.

While strawberry picking last year, my toddler made the connection for the first time that food was something that grew out of the ground. The next day he wanted to go Oreo picking. If only.

If you go, let your kids talk to the folks who run the farm if they are around. For little ones, I recommend making your own pail at home by punching holes in a Tupperware container and lacing a ribbon through it so they can wear it around their neck. That way, their hands are free to pick and they don’t have to worry about tripping and dropping their berries, or keeping up with the pail.

Now comes the challenge of eating all those strawberries. Stop on the way home for a gallon of low-fat vanilla ice cream and make your own strawberry milkshakes. Or make smoothies with vanilla yogurt, bananas and orange juice. You can make fresh strawberry syrup in a flash for pancakes on Saturday morning — just throw a splash of water, a few spoonfuls of sugar and strawberries in a pot, simmer a bit and then mash with the back of a fork. And of course, freeze some. 

If you don’t have your kids’ summer mapped out yet, check out the day camps list in the “Kids and Families” section of the calendar at the back of the paper. I am eyeing the world cultures art camp put on by Cullowhee Mountain Art, one of several themed art camps for a range of ages. They even have a family clay week in July, where you get to make pottery with your tweens or teens. With art increasingly being cut in public schools, it’s fabulous to have this extracurricular art option in our region. 

On the historical front, you can experience both Appalachian and Cherokee culture at two different festivals this Saturday, June 8. There’s the Appalachian Lifestyles Festival in downtown Waynesville and the Cherokee Voices Festival at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee. Both will feature traditional music, dance, crafts and lifeways. Have fun out there!


Berry pickin’

• Shelton Farms, Sylva. www.sheltonfamilyfarm.com.

• Darnell Farms, Bryson City. www.darnellfarm.com

• Ten Acre Garden, Waynesville. 828.235.9667

• Mitchell Farms, Franklin. www.jwmitchellfarms.com

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