There are so many things I love about summer: the sunshine, the warmth, swimming, the sound of crickets at night. But most importantly – the food! I think it is safe to say that summer has the best food. For me, summertime means delicious fresh fruit: watermelon, peaches, berries… My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, I had a small vegetable garden behind my house. This taught me two things: 1) nothing compares to fresh-picked produce and 2) four zucchini plants is about three too many (Seriously, you better really like zucchini if you plant more than one).
Now that I’m living in an apartment in an urban area, my farming opportunities are limited to potted plants on the patio. Okay, well in all honesty I have one plant, and it’s not edible, and I kind of keep forgetting it’s there. It’s amazing that it’s still alive. The guy who lives below me with rows and rows of colorful pots full of tomatoes and other veggies is really making me feel inadequate. In spite of my lack of patio agricultural endeavors, I still manage to enjoy fresh local produce all summer long.
In Northeast Ohio we have lots of options for summer produce. In most neighborhoods, there’s a farmer’s market nearby or you can participate in a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Of course you could always head up to the West Side Market and visit Rooted in CLE, a stall that sells only locally-grown produce. But, what if you want something a little more interactive? What if you want to show your kids where their food comes from? What if you’re looking for something to do and don’t want to spend a lot of money? Then you should head to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park!
You don’t have to own a pair of hiking boots or consider yourself to be an outdoorsy person in order to enjoy the National Park. The Park includes a number of farms, a list of which can be found on the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s website. My boyfriend and I decided to spend a Saturday in the park picking blueberries at Greenfield Berry Farm. This place was absolutely great! We pulled in and walked down to the barn where Farmer Greenfield welcomed us and filled us in on how the process worked. Don’t worry, it’s simple: take a carrier and a couple of half pint containers and pick to your heart’s content!
The blueberries were gorgeous and we sampled some while we picked!
When we were done we headed back to the barn, bought some lemonade, and settled down to listen to the music of Suppertime in the Hollow who were performing as part of the farm’s Pickin’ and Pickin’ music series. The music was a great touch and really added to the whole experience.
The berries only whetted our appetites for fresh fruit. We decided to swing by Country Maid Orchard in Richfield, OH on our way home. Grown on the same property as the store, they had the most beautiful, fragrant peaches! We bought half a peck and returned home to enjoy the fruit of our labors in the form of a peach and blueberry cobbler with blueberry pancakes on the menu for the following morning.
For under $20 we got an afternoon activity, live music, and some delicious eats. I can’t wait to head back in August for raspberries and blackberries!
Carrie Corrigan is a self-proclaimed art, food, music, and nature enthusiast. She’s been living in and loving Northeast Ohio since she moved here to attend Kent State University in 2006. She is a boomerang resident who recently returned after two years in Boston.