Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Pickin' Peaches

Palisade, Colorado is known for its fruit - cherries, apricots, grapes, nectarines, and especially their peaches. And every year, anyone who lives anywhere close to Palisade waits rather impatiently for the peaches to ripen, for the trucks to park on every other street corner and sell flats and boxes out of their beds, for farmers to start offering samples of the delicious varieties they sell at all the farmers' markets.

A drive through Palisade is always a pleasant one - cute Victorian houses line the town streets with tidy little yards and flower gardens. But once you get out into the country, streets are lined with rows and rows and rows of peach trees, intermittently dotted with fruit stands and farm houses. But mostly, it's just peach trees.

A friend tipped me off to a farm that's offering U-Pick peaches this year - at $7 a box, I couldn't resist. So the girls and I packed up and headed down the mountain, imagining all the yummy things one can make with peaches. At the mention of "peaches", I swear my daughters' pupils turn into tiny pictures of the fruit, akin to old school cartoon characters.

The trees were loaded. It took half an hour to pick four boxes of peaches - about 100 pounds. Yes, I might be crazy. Or perhaps logic escapes me when I start thinking about peach cobbler, peach crisp, peach smoothies, peach oatmeal, peaches on pancakes, peaches on ice cream..... 100 pounds doesn't seem like nearly enough when you imagine all the ways you could be eating them.

Again with the lack of any sense, I didn't take my camera along for our peach picking excursion. It really was a lovely time. I picked peaches, commented frequently about how it seemed that I was the only one doing any work, and my children wandered among the trees with peach juice dripping down their chins. The farmer told us to be sure to sample them... a couple of times, if we needed to. Two Little Girls took his suggestion to heart. Each one ate at least six peaches while I worked. With full boxes and full bellies, we headed home, having paid only 25 cents per pound. I feel a little bit like I robbed them.

If you're heading to any U-Pick farm, here's a short list of things you might want to pack:

*Plenty of water - that sun gets hot, fast!
*Gloves - fruits and veggies are dirty, but bugs also like to nap on them. Never grab a napping yellow jacket, just FYI.
*Chore boots, or some other water-proof, mud boots. Especially if you're going right after it rains.
*An apron, for each picker - it is much faster to fill your apron with fruit, then occasionally dump it into a box. Alternatively, a basket with a good handle would be useful.
*Extra cash - because inevitably there will be some other fantastic local produce available for sale, and you're going to want some. 
*If you're picking veggies, take along some garden scissors or nippers. It makes neat, easy work of harvesting most vegetables, and leaves the plants intact.
*Check with your farm to see if they offer containers to take your fruits or veggies home in. Most do, but some appreciate it if you bring your own boxes or bags.


Since I didn't get any pictures of our afternoon, my sweet Littlest One drew us a picture so we could all remember:

That's exactly what it looked like. I promise. :o)

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