After a long search through the vast field, my daughter’s search was over. She found just what she was looking for – an unusual looking green gourd with a long graceful neck, the appropriately named swan gourd!
One of our family traditions is to drive out to Lewin Farm in Calverton, NY every fall to go apple and pumpkin picking. Going out there to see everything growing and still on the trees and vines gives us a better appreciation for where our food comes from and how challenging it is to produce. It reminds us that our fruits and vegetables don’t just magically appear in the grocery store as perfect looking food.
Lewin Farm is a real working farm that sells zucchini, peppers, cucumbers, corn, and other produce they grow. The farm also has an extensive “pick your own” harvest including berries, peaches, peppers, apples, pumpkins, gourds, and even Christmas trees. When Lewin Farm says pick your own, they really mean it. Unlike other farms where you might pick your own pumpkin from an assortment of their best pumpkins nicely arranged on a picturesque grassy area, at Lewin Farm you traipse around the unharvested fields to hunt for your pumpkins and gourds. Quite often what we have wanted was still growing so we’ve had to use a knife to cut them off the vines.
Walking through the pumpkin and gourd field, we’ve seen them in different stages of growth. One year, our daughter insisted on taking home a tiny green pumpkin. We knew that it still had a long way to go before it was fully grown, but she didn’t care. She thought it was adorable even though it was still green. We’ve also seen many others that exploded from too much rain and rotted before being harvested or were eaten by animals – not everything is successfully harvested. Like most farms, Lewin Farm rotates their crops so even though the basic pumpkins are always easy to find, sometimes figuring out where our favorite special gourds are is an adventure in itself.
Apple picking is another adventure at Lewin Farm. There are many different varieties that ripen at different times during the fall so the selection can be different from week to week. The apples are generally easy to pick since all of the trees are less than 8 feet tall. Even when my daughters were toddlers, they had the satisfaction of picking their own apples from the lower limbs of the trees. Just like the pumpkins and gourds, there have also been years where the apple crop was small or bad and we weren’t able to get any apples. However, there have been years where the apples were so abundant that we were eating so many apples and baking so many apple crisps and apple muffins that we had an apple overload. For our family, all of this adds to the natural appeal of a real farm – although it’s not easy, it’s filled with amazing surprises!
- Skills: Gross and fine motor
- Preparation: Wear comfortable clothes and close toed shoes since you’ll be standing and walking outside in possibly dusty or muddy fields. Bring a wagon if you have one since it’ll be handy for lugging the apples and pumpkins around the field. Bring a knife or pocket knife to cut pumpkins and gourds off the vine.
- Cost: The price will vary depending upon how much you pick. There’s a standard rate for apples. The pumpkins and gourds can be purchased separately, but the better deal is to fill one of their giant sacks with the desired pumpkins and gourds for a flat fee of $22.
- Time & Energy: It takes us about an hour to drive out to Calverton. The apple orchard is separate from the pumpkin and gourd field. We usually spend over an hour picking apples and then drive to the pumpkin field for another hour of picking pumpkins and gourds.
- Contact Info: The farm has a website (http://lewinfarm.com) where you can check on hours and availability for Pick Your Own fruits and vegetables.