One of the things I miss most about the house we sold in Utah, is our backyard. Before we had ever started dreaming of living in an RV, we had planned on buying more land somewhere to learn how to farm and live more sustainably.
While we lived in the suburbs, we did everything we could to learn about homesteading. We planted a garden, raised chickens, had several bee hives, and planned out as much edible landscaping as possible, including planting a dozen fruit trees. We tried to do it all.
We were doing the most we could with our small bit of land.
We could step out the front door and snip fresh herbs for dinner or pick strawberries for breakfast. Our fruit trees were giving healthy crops, asparagus was popping up each spring, the blackberries were growing like weeds and my goji berry bush was finally producing so much fruit! There are times when I dream of our old backyard.
We changed our plan and now here we are, living on the road.
While visiting with another traveling family for a month, Matt and Ross one day went to pick vegetables at a U-PICK farm. The moment Matt got to Long Farms, he knew I would love it. He sent me photos while he was picking vegetables and called me a couple of times to ask what to pick. He came home with a large bag of vegetables, a box of fresh Georgia peaches and even some freshly picked zinnia flowers.
As soon as we ate through all of that food, we planned a visit to the farm with the whole family, and made even further plans (that eventually didn't happen) to go a third time with our friends. The friendly staff at the farm remembered Matt and was happy the rest of us came along this time. After a few questions about our lifestyle and truck, we grabbed a bucket and headed out to pick vegetables on the 100-acre farm.
Sections were marked and labeled ready for picking. Certain areas were better for picking as we weren't the first ones there. One tip that worked for us was to walk further down the rows away from the road where others haven’t gone to find a better selection of vegetables.
The price during our visit was fill a five-gallon bucket for nine dollars! What an incredible price! We were able to pick green beans, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers and okra. Our kids were so excited the whole time and felt like they were on a treasure hunt for the perfect vegetable.
While picking okra, the owner, Jimmy, stopped by to ask us if we needed any help. We had never seen okra before, let alone picked it. We had already picked a bit but as soon as Jimmy saw our bucket he said, “Toss those out!”
We thought the bigger the better, but we were wrong. Those are too hard to eat. He took the time to walk down the rows of okra with us and pointed out to the kids which ones were good. They needed to still be a little soft and just the right size. There's also a trick to "snapping" them off just right. After his help, we were able to top off our bucket with the right size of okra.
We also stopped to pick some cabbage and kale since it was only one dollar each. We met some local ladies who showed us how to pick a good cabbage and where to cut it properly. It was a learning experience for all of us - the type you can really only get on-site.
Jimmy also told Matt that nearby (also in Decatur County) his family owns the property containing a huge subterranean cave system, called Climax Caverns. Matt was told that this cave system is so big that they've never actually found the end of it and it's possible that it may even be bigger than Mammoth Cave. Unfortunately for us, the private property owners are very selective of who goes into the caverns and usually it's only reaserchers from the Universities that are allowed to explore it. Bummer.
We returned to the sales barn to pay for what we had picked. The owner of the farm was also in the store. Upon seeing us return with our vegetables, he greeted us and showed us the two cantaloupe he had just picked to check for ripeness. He graciously gave them to us for free after making us promise that we would wait two days before cutting them open - because that's when they would be perfect. And they were so good!
We found out about this farm from a new friend we had met while staying in Georgia. Not too far from where we were staying, it was just a 20 minute drive through the rural scenic backroads near Whigham, GA. Like I said, we only made it there twice but we wish we had visited more.
Long Farms helped remind me how good it feels to get in the dirt and pick vegetables right off the plant. The people who work at the farm and the owner are so nice and friendly. It has been around since 1973 and they really know what they are doing. I would love it if we could find a farm like this near every location we visit! Perhaps I’ll have a farm of my own someday for travelers to stop by at.
Our kids had such a good time doing this one simple thing. It's really exemplified what ""simple living" can be. The impressions ran deep in our children and Teddy still asks when we will have okra again. I loved trying something new and figuring out how to cook and eat it. It's not the first time we've been to a U-Pick farm (last year we picked blueberries in Maine and apples in Massachusetts), but it was the first time we got to meet the owner/farmer.
Note: With all U-Pick farms, it's important to look up their website and/or call them to see what they have available based on growing seasons. This farm we went to has two different seasons but also during a season things are being picked out and some stock is overgrowing - so it just depends on when you go. This particular farm also has beef you can buy if you time it right (which we didn't - but will hope for when we hopefully swing through again).
If you don’t have your own garden, I highly encourage you to find a u-pick farm near you!
Have you ever been to a pick-your-own fruits or vegetables farm/orchard? I would love to hear your experiences in the comments.