Monday, May 24, 2010

Flower Fields

Carlsbad, California is a formerly quaint little beach town in northern San Diego, which unfortunately has exploded in the last few years and is now home to probably 7 Starbucks and countless houses that all look exactly the same. But, I still love Carlsbad because it is also still the home of some wonderfully beautiful scenery, and some really cool people- including some of my favorite relatives- plus, the town just has a good feel to it. There are glorious beaches, some cute old beach homes that haven't yet been mowed down to put up condos, and a surprising amount of farmland that hasn't been cemented in yet either.
The most famous farm is the flower fields. If you drive by during the right time in spring, you'll be wowed by over 50 acres of fabulous blooms all lined up in rainbow stripes.

It really is quite a glorious site- one I haven't seen in years, and my kids didn't really remember ever seeing since our last few visits have been at other times of the year. This year, we lucked out and our visit timed perfectly into sunshine and blooms, and I'm thinking they'll remember it. The main crop at the flower fields is ranunculus, but the gardens also include miniature roses, sweet pea and anemone. Years ago, you could just take a stroll through the rows anytime, but like everything else, that has changed too, and now it is a big tourist attraction with wagon ride and educational tours that costs in the range $10 a pop to get in.

Despite my nostalgia about the days when the flower fields were free to roam, I'm glad that they've found a way to keep their farm going by successfully combining agriculture and tourism. They're also bringing something a whole lot prettier to the world than another soy field or a cattle lot.

We weren't feeling up for a tour, but did stop to admire the views from a walkway on the hillside street above. I suppose I could have gotten all educational about it and created a unit study on the flowers grown there, their history, the horticultural hot points, imports and exports etc, but none of that really appealed to me at the time. I just wanted to appreciate the beauty of the flowers with my kids. So we did.

We did end up having a very philosophical talk about politics and economics though. Seeing all the farm workers prompted a discussion about immigration, legal and otherwise, and low paying agricultural jobs that not many people really want, but are really important that keeping things like farms going. This led to talking about consumerism, cheap labor and political backlash looking at several sides of the issues. I love the organic way learning just happens, and it was especially poetic that it happened on  farm- and a great looking farm at that.