Out at the orchard my brother and I quietly gathered our stores of mushy fruit, usually peaches or apples. Then we'd wander off to an area of the orchard where we could take turns lobbing the fruit over the trees at each other and laugh hysterically. Inevitably, the game ended with some kind of injury -- emotional or otherwise -- at which point we would wander back to the fold and help pick the fruit.
Back at home mom turned the bounty into jam most years. Sometimes it turned out a bit runny so we poured it over vanilla ice cream. Other years it was just right. There were always pies too. Delicious peach pie for the family and all the neighbors (even if they didn't want one).A lot has changed on small farms in just one generation. The simple dirt roads of childhood are now grand parking lots with "attractions" mounted by season. Strawberry shortcake in June, buttered corn-on-the-cob in July, apple cobbler in the autumn. Often there is a petting zoo and a snack bar ... so no one ever needs to be without.
Cow sculpture on farm in NY, 2007 / C. Kraft photo
It's alright, all these changes. Getting people out from the city to the farm is the name of the game. The more children connect to the fun of the farm the greater our chances of creating a child who understands where food comes from and why it is important to health, to prosperity, to America.
A trip to the farm is always a good investment in a child, even if it brings out a mischievous side.