Clean Plate Charlie fights an internal struggle when it comes to food: convenience versus quality. We live within walking distance of Publix, where the produce is a couple of days old. On a lazy Sunday, we don't want to haul across town to shop. But nothing beats picking fresh fruits and veggies right off the vine. So we stepped out of our comfort zone, packed the family up in the car, and headed North to Natural Wonders Landscaping in Coconut Creek.
Natural Wonders houses Broward County's only u-pick business. This landscaping and property-maintenance store is known largely for outdoor home improvement.
Stepping out of our car, the first thing we noticed was the fragrance of strawberries filling the air.
Walking through the front gate, visitors are greeted by a sign detailing which produce is ripe and ready to be picked.
Entering a trailer gains access to a country store, filled with homemade soaps and salves, salad dressings and fruit dips, and kitschy retail items.
A friendly employee steps out from behind the counter to explain how the u-pick works and detail the prices. We reach for a small basket and a pair of scissors and head outside to the nursery.
Row after row of fresh produce ready to be picked sits in stacked pots. It's a little overwhelming trying to determine where to begin, but we spot the bright-red strawberries and make a beeline.
Sizing up the selection, we begin snipping strawberries. Choosing the perfect batch of ripe and juicy berries in an ideal amount is liberating. This task is far more satisfying than shaking plastic blister packs in the grocery store, looking for the box that has the fewest berries close to turning.
We walk down colorful rows of Swiss Chard, admire plump green bell peppers, and see for the first time what a head of broccoli looks like still intact.
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When we're satisfied with our selections, we head back into the country store to check out. We don't even make it to the car before pulling out a large berry to sample.
Just one bite and the juice is already dripping from the sweet berry.
This was one successful trip!