Archive for the ‘Know Your Food’ Category

Best Berry Picking Farms & Festivals

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

Memorial Day weekend is traditionally the pinnacle of strawberry season here in the DC area, and the foodie tots tend to eat through our weekly market haul of berries well before I get a chance to cook with them. So a trip to the pick-your-own farm is essential for stocking up!

Here are a few favorite places to get out and pick your own berries in Northern Virginia:

strawberry patch at wegmeyer farms

  1. Great Country Farms: Bluemont, Va. (note: GCF charges admission, but is basically a farm adventure land for the kids. Check the website to see about special events.)
  2. Hollin Farms: Delaplane, Va.
  3. Wegmeyer Farms: Hamilton, Va. (see comments below)
  4. Butler’s Orchard: Germantown, Md.
  5. Shlagel Farms: Waldorf, Md.
  6. Westmoreland Berry Farms Oak Grove, Va. (on the Northern Neck, they serve barbecue fare and ice cream/strawberry shortcake in season)

foodie tots at Wegmeyer Farms, Va.

A few things to note for a successful berry picking trip:

  • Go early and ALWAYS call ahead to check picking conditions. The farms around here tend to get picked out quickly on nice summer days, and this weekend is sure to be busy.
  • Dress the kids in dark colors (or red) to avoid stains and wear appropriate footwear (e.g., not the flip flops my toddler refused to change out of. They were new, after all, and a girl can’t be separated from her new shoes.).
  • Bug spray and sunscreen/sun hats are a must.
  • You can’t plop a toddler down in a field of the freshest berries she’s ever seen and not expect her to nibble — so be courteous and round up your tab at check-out to cover any excessive in-field consumption.* And if you hope to have enough leftover for jam, you might want to buy twice what you think you’ll need.

Wegmeyer Farms is an easy under-60-minute drive from Arlington, and we love it for the younger kids in particular. The berry patch is a manageable size (and easy walking distance from parking) for younger kids. There are a couple picnic tables but unlike some of the larger farms (Great Country and Westmoreland have full-service concessions) you’ll have to pack your own lunch. {Update: Wegmeyer has three separate locations this year — Hamilton, Gilberts Corner and at Oaklands Plantation — visit their website for details.}

Hollin Farms is also an easy drive, off of I-66 at exit 23, and grows a variety of crops from berries to peaches, greens and even peanuts. They also practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM) — while I’m not aware of any truly organic local pick-your-own farms, IPM farms typically use more natural/less synthetic pest control methods.

foodietots at delaplane strawberry festival

For more than just picking, two popular festivals take place this weekend, May 23 & 24 —

Delaplane Strawberry Festival at Sky Meadows State Park, 10am to 5pm each day. Take a hay-ride, listen to live music, enjoy food and crafts, pony rides, games and more. Find our recap here.

& Great Country Farms Strawberry Jubilee, 9am to 6pm (but strawberry picking only from 9-11am) and next weekend, May 30-31. Features a Diaper Derby for crawling tots, a Strawberry Princess, strawberry shortcake and much more!

If my kids leave any, we’ll be making strawberry shortcake this weekend. You?

virginia grown strawberries

*The foodie tot heard the farmer say, “Go ahead and taste ’em,” and promptly shoveled three in her mouth.

Arcadia Farm Fallfest {Support School-to-Farm in Virginia}

Friday, October 4th, 2013

What’s even better than bringing farm-fresh foods to schools? Bringing school kids to the farm! The Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture is doing just that at its working farm on the grounds of the historic Woodlawn Plantation in Alexandria, Virginia. The non-profit arm of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, produce grown at the Northern Virginia farm is sold via a converted school bus, the Mobile Market, which travels around DC providing access to fresh produce in under-served areas.

chickens on Arcadia Farm, Virginia | FoodieTots

I had the privilege of attending a summer dinner on the farm earlier this year, and toured the beautiful farm. Just take a look around the Children’s Garden:

Children’s Garden at Arcadia from Colleen | GlassBottle on Vimeo.

Arcadia hosted kids farm camps over the summer, but now that school is in session they welcome schools to visit on field trips and offer family education programs on weekends. They’ve recently launched a brand new membership program to support all the good work they do. Members are given first dibs to sign up for culinary classes with master chefs and bakers from the Neighborhood Restaurant Group and others in the local food scene. To see upcoming classes and join the cause, visit their website

Arcadia Farm Fallfest 2013

You can visit Arcadia Farm this Sunday, October 6, for their Farm Fallfest Family Frolic Funtacular. It will be held from 12 to 4pm at Woodlawn, 9000 Richmond Highway, Alexandria.

Apple Cranberry Kale Salad and Kale Day with October Unprocessed

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

We love our kale in the foodie tots’ house — yes, even tofu-fearing husband has learned to appreciate it — so of course we had to jump on the Kale Day bandwagon on social media today. You see, the blog Eating Rules has an “October Unprocessed” challenge, now in its third year.october unprocessed 2012

The challenge urges people to go one month without processed foods, using a simple “kitchen test”: if the item you’re buying contains only ingredients that could be made in a home kitchen with whole ingredients, it’s okay. This rules out artificial colors and flavors, preservatives and high fructose corn syrup, for starters. It’s a great way to jump start a change in your family diet, if you’ve been contemplating a switch to real foods, or just follow along for a ton of great information and recipe ideas. And, as part of the real food love fest, founder Andrew Wilder declared today International Kale Day. Kale is a superfood packed with fiber, antioxidants and vitamins A, C and K, and most of us could stand to eat a little more of it.

Like the classic lemon-parmesan version, making this apple kale salad begins by massaging kale with salt. (Kids love to help with this step.) Let it stand while chopping the apple and nuts, and whisk together a quick dressing of maple syrup, apple cider vinegar and olive oil. Toss it all together and let it sit while you finish up the rest of dinner. The salt and dressing help tenderize the kale, and the finished salad is simple and full of fresh fall flavors. (Credit is due to my friend Jill, who first turned me on to the apple-kale combination.)

apple cranberry kale salad

Recipe: Apple Cranberry Kale Salad
Makes 4 servings


  • 1 bunch kale, rinsed, drained and chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 apple, cored and chopped
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup pecans, chopped


  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • pinch black pepper, optional


1. Place kale in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt. Massage salt into kale for two minutes.

2. Whisk together maple syrup, apple cider vinegar and olive oil (and pepper, if using–I usually add to the adults’ salads later). Add apples, cranberries and pecans to kale, add dress and toss gently to combine. Let stand 5 to 15 minutes before serving.

Check out the link round-up for more kale inspiration — and feel free to add a link of your own. Happy Kale Day!

Virginia Grown: Apple Picking at Stribling Orchards

Thursday, September 20th, 2012


We were recently in a small market in our neighborhood picking up one or two things, when the boy picked up a shiny red apple and tossed it in the basket. I admit I felt more than a little silly telling him to put it back — but we had a bag full of fresh, local apples at home. The last time we were in the same market, I let the kids buy two of the waxy, Grown in Washington labeled apples, only to have them take a few bites and toss the rest. My kids are apple junkies, but there’s no time like fall in Virginia to appreciate the difference between supermarket fruit and fresh, local varieties. There are a number of orchards within an hour or so drive from Washington, DC, but we tend to return to Stribling Orchard just off I-66 in Markham, Va.

picking apples at stribling orchard

Stribling has a couple perks that make it the ideal apple picking destination for the 5-and-under crowd:

  • You can pick up bags, but then drive into the area of the orchard where you want to pick.
  • Sticks. Sure, the small trees have plenty of fruit within easy grabbing reach, but these cool picking sticks can be used to reach the primo fruit up high. If you have boys, you know what a powerful draw this is!
  • Bathrooms. Actual running water bathrooms — for the essential hand washing before picnicking.
  • Food. On the weekends they set up a grill offering burgers and hot dogs, and sometimes full barbecue (ribs, chicken and pulled pork). There’s also the bakery and store where you can find fresh baked cider doughnuts, pies and preserves.

apple picking sticks at stribling

Of course, it can also be quite crowded on the weekends so try to arrive early and be prepared for lines at check out and those bathrooms. Here are a couple tips gleaned from our annual apple-picking adventures.

Tips for a Happy Apple-Picking Outing:

1. Hats and sunscreen are essential. Stribling, and many other local orchards, are on top of hills which offer gorgeous views — and full sunshine.

2. Wear shoes you don’t mind getting mucky and put kids in long pants. There’s a lot of spoiling fruit on the ground and the kids will be traipsing through tall grass and other brambly undergrowth.

3. Try to find the variety you most want first. Once kids get on a roll picking, there’s no slowing them down and they may fill their bag at the first tree.

favorite find at stribling orchard farm store

apple by nikki mcclureGIVEAWAY: So you’ve gone apple picking and now you’re wondering what to do with all those apples? I’ve started an Apple Fest board over on Pinterest. Pin your favorite apple recipe, then share a link in the comments here so I can repin it to the board — or tag your pin #foodietotsapplefest & I’ll find it!

Every apple recipe posted below or tagged on Pinterest will give you one chance to win a copy of the gorgeous book Apple by Nikki McClure. You can “like” FoodieTots on Facebook and leave an additional comment below for an extra entry (or note if you’re already a fan). Contest is open to US residents only and will close at 11:59pm Eastern on September 30. Good luck, and happy apple eating!

blue skies at stribling orchard

The Really Young and Hungry Welcome Union Market DC

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

A cold and steady drizzle didn’t deter the foodie tots from seeking out more delicious eats around town this weekend. This time, it was the Summer Picnic Spectacular at the coming-soon Union Market in Northeast DC.

union market washington dc

We love this project, from development firm EDENS, for many reasons. Modeled after foodie meccas like the San Francisco Ferry Building, it’s bringing retail back to one of the earliest market sites in Washington. It’s gathering some of our favorite local producers and brands (Trickling Springs Creamery, Rappahannock River Oysters, Peregrine Espresso, to name a few) in one beautiful location. It will have a cheese shop. And on this wet weekend, it provided good eats, drinks and fun for the whole family. And it warmed this mama’s heart to see so many other foodie tots in attendance. It’s truly a delicious time to be a kid or an adult in Washington.

Click the slide show to see the foodie tots favorites, including fried pickles, corn salad, churros, ice cream worthy of a salute, and more.

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Union Market opens September 8.
1309 5th Street NE
Washington, DC

Disclaimer: Headline is a shameless rip-off of nod to the Washington City Paper’s Young & Hungry blog. Give me a call if you want to branch out to the younger and hungrier audience.