The wonderful world of Justice and Mommy aka Mary!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Migrant Farming At Cracker Boy’s U-Pick Farm

Today we did the most enjoyable thing. We checked out another somewhat local U-Pick farm in Hobe Sound. After doing some internet research I found that there was a new farm in the area which was not listed on pickyourown.org. I really wanted to check it out and after the previous day’s disappointments (let’s just say it was a bad day), I was itching to do something fun.

Cracker Boys Vegetables and U Pick is so new they don’t have a web site or even a regular business line. When I called the phone number I found listed for them it actually went right into the owners voice mail. I left a message on Friday and waited for a return call. I wasn’t even sure if they were opening or monitoring the line, so I didn’t expect a return call right away.

As luck would have it the owner of the farm happened to return my call on Sunday morning and let me know they were open that day. After jotting down the directions, I called Justice from the west wing of our one bedroom apartment and got ready to do some grocery shopping in a field.

We put on our shoes and hopped into the car hoping for a good experience and that’s just what we got. After a thirty minute drive on I-95 we exited onto Bridge Road and headed east for about three miles. It was a long, seemingly unending country road where everybody traveled at high speeds and seemed to know exactly where they were going.

We actually passed our destination two times before we were able to find them due to the high speeds and smallish sign set just a little too far off the road for out of towners like us. As we pulled into the white gravel driveway I took note of the small field of crops and even smaller country store. I must admit my expectations were not high; however, I am happy to say they were far exceeded.

After we got out of the car we checked out the country store lined with unfinished lattice and filled with good old country folk and fresh produce. Dad was sitting on a rocking chair with his toddling daughter while mom was behind the register, as her school aged son roamed about. Immediately I had a good feeling about Cracker Boys U-Pick Farm. I could see that this was a labor of love for the family and I knew we were about to be blessed by their hard work.

I checked in with mom at the register to find out what was available for picking. She told us we could pick green beans or tomato’s then gave us a bucket and walked us out to the field. Justice was very excited. Prior to this we have only tried out one u-pick farm and it was a hydroponic farm; therefore, this was a completely new experience.

In no time at all Justice was bent down on the ground picking feverishly, moving from side to side like a crab on the ocean floor. His eyes were locked onto the beans and he was hell bent on filling the large white bucket in his hand. Of course I realize we only have two people in our house, so I had to put a limit on what he could pick. He agreed to limit the amount of beans he picked; however, I think he was secretly wishing we had an army to feed so he could pick as much as he wanted.

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After we had a sufficient amount of beans we decided to check out the produce stand; but, as soon as we got in there Justice wanted to know what else we could pick. We don’t normally eat a-lot of tomato’s so I was planning on skipping them; however, Justice had other plans. After he promised me he would eat them, I agreed to picking them.

The lady running the store actually walked us out to the field again and showed us where to pick. When we reached the proper row, we were met with another family member who was tending the fields. He offered to direct us to the best rows and pointed out the types of tomatoes they had. I was curious about the green tomato’s because I’ve never had them and didn’t know how to prepare them. He suggested frying them. I didn’t think that sounded too complicated, so we picked a few of them and agreed we would try a new recipe that night. Besides, after watching “Fried Green Tomato’s” so many times, I’ve always been a bit curious about this southern oddity which was quite lacking in Philadelphia, where I grew up.

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After picking just the right amount of red and green tomatoes, we made our way back to the store and began perusing the plain wooden shelves. Everything was so fresh and the prices were amazing. We actually got a pound of pre-picked strawberry’s for $2.00! Again, Justice wanted to take two of everything and fill our basket; but, I knew we could only eat so much and didn’t want to waste food.

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After we had gotten all the fruits and vegetables we could possibly eat in one week, we made our way to the register. I was shocked when the lady told me that we owed he a mere $7.90. We had so much in our bags! I looked around and noticed a large white sign with red lettering which said “Boiled Peanuts”. Nether of us had ever had them and our bill was so low, so I ordered a small cup for Justice.

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I took a few moments to chat with the lady before leaving while Justice inspected the curious nuts in his foam cup. I asked her how long they had been open and how business was. She informed me that they had only been open since October and business was just ok. I also asked her where their other produce came from and she was happy to reveal their sources. It was nice to know where our food was coming from and to do business with friendly people.

As we drove off, I had a feeling of complete satisfaction. We had found a really great new farm to harvest and purchase our produce. I look forward to making day trips to Hobe Sound and exploring the area’s parks and beaches over the next year. It will provide me with yet another opportunity to experience another part of Florida with my little sidekick, who quite loudly exclaimed from the back seat “Hey I do like these boiled peanuts. They taste just like beans!”

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posted by Mary Gerber at 4/08/2008

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