Here’s some tips to make your U-PICK trip a success…
There’s nothing like driving several hours to pick some fresh fruit right off the tree, then getting lost, then finding your way again, then getting lost again and finally finding the farm where you are hoping to pick some delicious juicy seasonal fruit….and having the farmer tell you “They’re not in season yet, they need a few more days to ripen. Come back next week….”
So, to help you avoid a similar disappointing experience, here are some of my tips when doing U PICK:
1. Always call the farm first, to make sure the crop is ready to be picked, and the farmer is ready to allow the public in for picking. I usually call the day before or morning of my visit. Be sure to ask about the condition of the crop – is it plentiful or scarce, and is it a ‘good year’, or is there a small crop.
2. Ask about cost. There are differences in price from farm to farm. Price is generally by the pound.
3. Ask about hours. And remember, some nearby states are in a different time zone. Northern Michigan for instance is 1 hour ahead of Chicago. Northern Indiana however is the same time as Chicago, as is Wisconsin.
4. Ask the farmer if you need to bring your own containers, or if you will be able to use theirs while you pick. Also, will you need to bring containers for bringing what you pick home.
5. There are usually no admission costs. If there are, that is peculiar, and suspicious.
6. The farmer has a parking area set aside. Leave you car locked. Sometimes, the farmer will transport you to another part of the farm on a cart (usually the kind used for hay rides). Most often you just walk to the designated area.
7. After you pick the produce, you bring it back to the ‘farm stand’ or office that the farmer has set up. He weighs it if you are picking by the pound, and you pay (expect to pay in cash). As said earlier, bring a container to bring the stuff home in.
8. Remember to bring sunscreen, and wear appropriate clothing (a sun hat is always good), and even appropriate shoes. Remember, this is a farm: think dirt. Layering is always good, so bring along a long sleeve garment to prevent mosquitos, tick bites.
9. Remember you are visiting someone’s home and property, so be respectful: don’t litter. Many U-Pick farms have a public bathroom visitors can use.
10. Bring along some food and drink, preferably in a cooler. Especially if you are bringing children. Some farms have small picnic areas set aside for visitors. Remember there may be nowhere nearby to buy lunch or even a snack.
But most importantly take your time, breath the fresh air, stop and smell the roses, and HAVE FUN!