Thames River Melons

In Family-friendly, Local Outings
For a few weeks now we’ve heard murmurings of parents going strawberry picking with their kids. We thought we’d missed the season; word on the street was that Moore’s (on the edge of Paris) was picked over and they’d taken down their “You pick” sign. But then we caught wind of another place – Thames River Melons – up the ways a little and still bursting at the seams.

Our directions to the farm – thanks for the hot tip Magda! – were to head pass the Esso station in Drumbo and keep going ’til we saw the strawberry sign. We finally spotted it, a bit closer to Innerkip, a small white arrow with red paint marking the way to “Stawberries”. A short drive down a side road took us to a roadside stand with a little old lady in a white hat. She warned us the strawberries were on their way out but that we’d still be able to find some good ones if we looked carefully and were judicious.

After weighing our containers, she loaded us onto her golf cart and drove us out to the fields to fill our baskets. We crossed a wooden bridge and passed other workers bent over their tasks. The woman told us the farm employs hundreds of people and grows all sorts of produce, including the melon of their namesake. Their motto is, “A farm in your backyard, growing fresh fruits and vegetables from A-Z (asparagus to zucchini)!” A good idea for some rainy day – an illustrated alphabet of vegetables?

The last few days have brought us punishing humidity that reminds Cass of her childhood in Florida. Entering the strawberry fields we found a sweet consolation for the heat: that one-of-a-kind aroma of baking fresh strawberries. There’s nothing like it.

Moo rooted around the stems of the plants, tasting more than her fair share of fresh berries. She got a little gun-shy when she realized some of the strawberries were no good; this was surely our final week or so of picking, and the last berries were beginning their natural cycle of decay. We had to inspect each one carefully to only get the fresh ones. Moo quickly realized it was safer to eat from the quart we already picked, so we had to move quickly to ensure our baskets stayed topped up.

Mark loved the berries warm from the sun; Cass prefers them cold. There’s no question as to their sweetness though, and after we got them home, washed and chilled, we found ourselves regretting not having picked up more. We came home with two and a half quarts which cost us $4.25. And they take debit; we really should have gotten a whole palette.

On our way back out of the fields in the golf cart, the woman mentioned she’d grown up in Simcoe and now wouldn’t rather be anywhere else. She guessed people who lived in Toronto probably died early! That smell of strawberry fields, mud on our knees, and the sight of Moo with strawberry juice dripping down her chin won’t leave us anytime soon. We might be inclined to agree with her.

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Thames River Melon farm will soon have more for the picking. The woman assured us that as soon as they could fix their pump and water the raspberries – any day now – they’d be ready. And in a week or two, the blueberries would get going as well and their picking season should last for several weeks.

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