My mother is particularly adept at making the perfect pie crust. She once had a pie go for some $700 at a local charity auction. Granted, she does have an uncommon amount of experience. She ran a small café for nigh 50 years and made most of the daily desserts herself; many were pies and cobblers. It was almost unheard of to use a store-bought crust, and because I do not possess her skill for pie crusts, that tends to be the variety I turn to. Alas, I fully accept that as cheating — a good option in a pinch, but cheating nonetheless.
Mom didn’t just make the crust. For her berry varieties, she typically used local berries. If we weren’t picking wild blackberries or gooseberries ourselves, we were buying them from local farmers who happened to have a few bushes to pick and sold to us. Blackberry cobbler was a customer favorite, and we always picked or bought enough to freeze and have well into the winter months.
Growing up in a small town, more rural than urban, we were fortunate to have such convenient access to farms, berries and the experiences both afford a child. However, most of my siblings and I live in more urban areas now, as does most of the population. But, we were taught well and still search out local farms close to home.
One of my youngest nieces is wrapping up her first official year of school, and her mother, my sister-in-law, is already looking forward to summer — as in the “What am I going to do with her for three months?” type of looking forward. But, I am certain she is already making plans. Though they live in the city, they often daytrip to local farms. Like my mother, my sister-in-law is a smart cookie. A dietician by profession, she looks for ways to “educate” my nieces by using food experiences. She is always sending me photos of them elbow-deep in cookie dough or knee-deep in strawberry plants.
While berry farms represent a significant portion of Missouri’s agritourism farms — I have noticed a couple in the Kansas City area are already open for strawberry picking — so many other options exist to “experience” the farm. From farmers’ markets to community supported agriculture (CSA) to wineries to horseback riding, camping and more, we can connect with those who grow our food in a memorable way. Perhaps we might even learn a little along the way.
Here’s to Moms, pies and farms, and the experiences they provide.