Summer is a great time to pick berries on Long Island. Berry bushes are low to the ground, and the berries are small enough for little fingers to grasp. It's a great activity for kids of all ages. Berry picking makes the farm to table movement easy for kids to understand, as they get to participate in their own food harvesting. Late July is peak season for blueberries and raspberries. Blackberries ripen in August. Suffolk County is home to five of the best berry picking farms. Be sure to call the farms before heading out, to confirm picking hours and berry availability, as inventory sells quickly. Don't forget to also check out our Pick Your Own Guide for expanded coverage on fruit picking in the tri-state area.
Have you heard that Twinkies are coming back? It might be time to offset the barrage of non-food foods with a little delicious education. This summer, bring your kids over to HealthBarn USA, a fun farm that teaches children and grown-ups about nutritious food and how to live a healthier lifestyle. At the barn, children learn how to grow their own fruits and veggies and make the best choice at the supermarket or in a restaurant. Additionally, they learn how to prepare and cook their bounty, in a fun, hands-on way. Read on for all the details and an interview with HealthBarn USA founder, Stacey Antine.
From the Montclair Art Museum to the Prudential Center; from the Turtle Back Zoo to Eagle Rock Reservation, Essex County is an eclectic mix of entertainment, business and of course, good eats. From Portuguese to Italian, you’ll find myriad restaurant options throughout this northeast area of the garden state. Many of these local eateries source their vegetation, meats and dairy products from New Jersey farms hosted at daily Farmers Markets.
Don’t have a green thumb? Critters spoiling you attempts at a garden again this year? Join a CSA farm. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a partnership between a local farmer and the people who consume his/her fresh, often organic, produce. Members purchase a "share" of the farm's anticipated harvest. This partnership becomes a win/win situation to the CSA members by giving them the best quality, freshest, widest variety of locally grown produce while ensuring the survival of the farms by guaranteeing the farmer a fair return on his/her efforts. Members pay at the beginning of the season and the farmer delivers a weekly assortment of vegetables, herbs and sometimes fruit as they become available. Each of the farms runs a little differently, so check the websites and choose the program that best suits your family’s needs. And enjoy!
There is a gem nestled inside Essex County: Turtle Back Zoo. Part of the South Mountain Recreation Complex, TBZ is a lovely little zoo with a big commitment to wildlife education and conservation. With the added perk of being smack in the middle of a treetop obstacle course, an indoor skating rink and a mini golf course, the TBZ is an amazing day trip for anyone in Northern New Jersey and worth the trip for any family in the whole state. Read on for all the highlights!
"The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house all that cold, cold, wet day."-- Dr. Seuss. Well, you're not making any more of a mess in MY house--my basement looks like a Disney Princess Island of Misfit toys. Even if Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring, I'm still not seeing the light at the end of this tunnel. Get out and explore some of the best indoor play spaces in Northwestern NJ--in other words, a place where your kids can make a mess and you don't need to clean it up!
Growing up, there were four kids in our family, and little could ice the bickering like freezing temps, hot cocoa and pursuit of the perfect tree. It was one of the best family outings of the year. There are several Christmas tree farms in Fairfield County, large and small, and the owners have equally fond memories of the many families who come back to them year after year.
By now, many of you have probably organized your summer with military precision. I know I have. We have this much camp and that much vacation and this much time to annoy one another and that much time to drag ourselves around town to various sprinklers. It's all mapped out. Even still, sometimes it's nice to just get away, semi-spontaneously, for a few days of family fun without having to drive very far. New Jersey and the surrounding area offer several weekend destinations ranging from waterparks to pig farms to NJ's many beaches. Enjoy the backseat conversations and wave-jumping squeals, because my brand of nostalgia dictates that I remind you, autumn will be here before you know it. Soak up the sunshine!
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