Strawberry Fields was a place in Liverpool, well-loved by John Lennon where he said he “always had fun.” The strawberry fields at Tanaka Farms in Irvine are well-loved by Kid Works, where we always have fun as a school family. But fun is fleeting. We ascribe more value to our time spent at Tanaka Farms than just a fun way to spend the morning together.
What value do the children get from a trip to Tanaka Farms?
A visit to the farm calls upon all of their senses to experience where our food really comes from! Their whole body learns that food comes from the good earth, not from the grocery store or even the farmer’s market. The farm is where they see with their own eyes what a complete onion actually looks like. It’s more than a ball-shaped thingy! It has hairy strands at one end and long, green, tube-like leaves at the other end. The onions can be smelled in the field before the children can see them.
Being at the farm together—children, parents and teachers—produces lasting memories that have value beyond measure! Touching, tasting, seeing and smelling the richness of fresh, edible plants with family and friends outdoors, at the place of harvest, embeds experiences in the brain that form and shape the very nature of each child, even after the details of the trip are long forgotten. Sitting next to James on the weathered wooden bench of the tractor trailer, bouncing up and down, I could hear the loud crunch of the carrot as he bit into it. “I like carrots, Dana!” All his senses were involved. He has the experience of eating a carrot on the farm where it was grown. His understanding of carrot is now deeper, fuller and more meaningful.
The togetherness we shared on the trailers as we bunched up to accommodate everyone created a sense of security, family and yes, fun for the children! In the joy and novelty of a tractor ride, sitting up close to a friend as they took a bite of bok choy emboldened the less adventurous eaters to give it a try when otherwise they may not have. Everyone was sharing in the same activity, eating the same plant at the same time. What a sense of community, even down to eating of the same bountiful handful, passed from one hand to next! What an important sight for our children to watch and be a part of.
Lastly, the strawberries! The scent of the berries met our noses before the tractor even shut down. Rows upon rows of bright green glossy leaves decorated the softly sloping hillsides.
When the tractor stopped we jumped down from the trailers, set free to forage in the strawberry field like hikers in the back country! There were shiny, red berries everywhere, their saturated color drawing us close, as if under a spell, their flavor intensified by the warm sun! What can be better than picking and eating a berry right on the spot? Answer: picking and eating as many berries as you can, right on the spot!
“Mom, don’t we have to wash it first?”
Not this time, Honey! Enjoy!”
Ahh, memories. Priceless, valuable memories. Parents, please share what you valued about your experience.
See you next year, Tanaka Farms!