The wonderful world of Justice and Mommy aka Mary!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Our New Career As Migrant Farm Workers

We woke with anticipation and curiosity on Saturday morning. This was the day we were to pick our own produce just like farmers or good old country people. Justice was brimming with excitement and I was looking forward to a new experience. I was hoping to get some really great pictures of him and as it turned out destiny was not about to disappoint.

I carefully choose a pair of camouflage pants and a matching subdued blue t-shirt for Justice to wear and laid his clothes out on the couch. After a few mild threats and ten minutes Justice was dressed, however; I don’t think he was quite satisfied with the outfit his underpaid stylist picked for him. He decided to improve upon the look with a lightweight red fireman’s’ jacket and matching rubber rain boots. To accessorize this ensemble he tied the waistband from a Robin costume around his head like a samurai.

Immediately a ton of thoughts flew through my mind. He’s going to ruin the pictures, he looks ridiculous, what will other people think…. Then, I realized that there is a brief window in everyone’s life where they can walk out of the house in such a getup and get away with it. At the age of five it’s ok to look ridiculous. People giggle when you say “He picked out his own outfit out today.” Ten years from now he will not get that same response if he chooses to dress this way, so I decided to keep my thoughts to myself and let him run with this look and we walked out the door feeling good about ourselves.

After a somewhat lengthy ride on I-95, we arrived at The Girls U-Pick Strawberry Farm. At first glance it could have been any ordinary store front in a nondescript strip mall. It was obvious that they occupied two spaces; however, from the front they looked like any other store with a few cute benches out front. Once we entered it became apparent that we were not in Kansas any more.

We were met with simple shelves stocked with glass jars and home baked goods. There was an upright piano set flush against the store window and nobody complained when Justice tapped out his original score to “I Don’t Know How To Play The Piano” I found it to be quite endearing; however, I’m not sure it was quite that amazing to the other patrons.

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We browsed around the store for a bit and tried to take everything in. There were jars full of hot southern sauces to sweet jams and preserves. The aisles were littered with multicolored hard candies as well as quaint odds and ends like scented candles and touristy magnets. There was a large glass covered bakery shelf with the most delectable cakes, pastry’s and chocolate covered strawberry’s. It was the cutest little country store smack in the middle of a city.

After perusing the shelves for a little while, Justice was getting antsy. He couldn’t wait to get out in the field and pick some strawberries and I have to admit I was pretty excited too! We exited through the back of the store and I couldn’t believe what I saw. In front of me was a huge field littered with quaint signs, a house, birds and more. It almost seemed like we had walked through the looking glass. How could we have just been in the city seconds ago and now we were in a farm field? It was like magic.

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We grabbed a basket and some friskar type scissors then set of on our adventure. Our feet crunched on the white gravel pathways as we began to explore this strange phenomenon. Immediately we were met with a myriad of hand painted signs. Some alerted us to the types of birds and animals that call the farm home and others named the picturesque pathways that were begging to be explored. We were willing to oblige.

Justice wanted to get right to picking; but, I wanted to check things out first, so we began to walk up and down the well placed pathways. Everywhere we looked there were interesting things to see. The whole farm had been designed very intelligently. In the middle there was a house with a white picket fence and a small wooden sign that read Grandma’s House. Inside the fence were some miniature donkeys named Romeo and Juliet as well as a few goats and the front yard was home to a beautiful pond with several snow white swans drifting about. It was a perfectly Utopian farm house.

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Just north of the farm house was Poppies Veggi Barn, a large brown wooden structure. It was chock full of freshly picked produce resting on top of crates and potato sacks. While we were there I filled our wooden basket with the freshest tomatoes, peppers, corn, grapes and banana’s. It was a great way to kick start our grocery shopping.

Finally we headed into the fields. Now, if you have never seen a hydroponic farm you probably have a very different idea of what the fields looked like. In traditional farms plants are grown in the ground one behind the other in long rows like soldiers lined for battle. In hydroponic farms they are grown in small containers which are hung vertically which saves space and reduced the need for water.

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Justice was so energetic and eager to pick his own strawberries which just happen to be his favorite fruit. He can eat a whole pound of them in minutes without blinking an eye. While this may be a good thing it also happens to be an expensive thing. At $4.99 a pound I had to put a limit on how many strawberries we could pick. I decided one pound would be sufficient and knew we had other fruits to snack on when the strawberries ran out.

Justice ran to the first plant that caught his eye and sniped the first green vine he could get his little red scissors on. He wore a mask of earnest concentration on his face and you could tell he took his job of harvesting fruit very seriously. Very carefully he choose each juicy red treat with just a little guidance from me. I think he would make a great migrant farm worker.

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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

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After that we strolled around the farm a bit longer then made our way to the quaint storefront to look for one last item. Justice’s teacher was out sick during Christmas so she missed our on the yummy chocolates my mom shipped down from Lore’s in Philadelphia. We had a parent teacher conference scheduled for the following week, therefore; I wanted to bring her a little something to show our appreciation for her hard work and dedication.

When I asked Justice what she likes to eat he said “I don’t think I see her eat. She goes first in the lunch line and then goes to another place to eat, but; IT’S NOT SKIPPING because she’s a teacher.” Then I asked him if he was sure he never saw her eat anything again, and in a very confident tone he replied “She eats crackers. I have seen her eat crackers.” I couldn’t help but laugh. We settled on a nice jar of homemade peach butter and decided to leave the crackers to the parrots.

Once we had paid for our items we piled everything into the car then headed over to The Boy’s Farmers Market to see if all the internet reviews boasting great prices matched with push y seniors in small spaces were true. They were true. The aisles were small, the prices were great and all I could see was a sea of white hair above my 5 foot frame. BUMP, BUMP, BUMP went the cart and our shins as condo queens knocked our cart about. YAK, YAK, YAK went the yentas who were haggling with the barely English speaking help.

It was great. I’ve never seen such good people watching. I could have wandered the aisles with a partially filled cart for hours and just been entertained by the patrons, but; I knew we had shopping to do. I couldn’t believe it- they had sliced loaves of FRESH bakery bread for a mere $1.50. There were whole roasted chickens for $5.00. I even got 5 ears of corn for $1.00 AND they had a nice wastebasket set up there for those who wanted to shuck their corn on the spot. How ingenious!

We finished our shopping with a smile and a few extra dollars in our pockets then headed off to Tradewinds Park for some disk golf and pony rides. We don’t normally get to go to the parks so far south in Florida because of the distance and I wanted to be sure to take advantage of our trip. The parks down south tend to offer more, because they are located in more heavily populated areas, therefore; they have more tax dollars to play with.

Justice rode the ponies, some of which actual horses.

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Then we toured a farm house and took advantage of the playground.

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After that we drove over to the other side of the park to play disk golf.

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Justice LOVED disk golf. Apparently it’s a pretty popular sport. We will be doing this again.

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posted by Mary Gerber at 2/22/2008

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