It may seem odd because it’s technically manual labor… but I love going to pick your own fruit and veggie farms with my kids! I really enjoy the fresh air and sunshine and showing my boys where their food comes from, how it grows, and all the work that goes into getting it from a farm to in our tummies. The past couple years we’ve been hitting up local PICK YOUR OWN FARMS IN BERKS COUNTY through summer and fall and happily snacking on the fruits of our labor (heh) afterwards.
If you’re new to the pick your own fun, and not a farmer, you might be unsure what to expect. Don’t fret. I’ve teamed up with Morgan from B&R FARMS to bring you some tips and etiquette for when you roll on out to your nearest farm to snap up the local goods.
Prepare To Pick
Get ready before you even walk out the door. Set your expectations, bring supplies, and make your picking visit enjoyable from the start.
Expect to walk.
Farms are big, spread out areas. You’ll be walking while you hunt for ripe fruit and picking, walking to pay, and walking to and from the parking lot. Sounds obvious, right? Young kids may not realize this, especially if they have never visited a farm!
Bring your own bucket- Maybe.
Check with the farm before you head over (most have a website or Facebook page). Some places REQUIRE you to bring your own bucket, others make it optional (and sometimes it saves you money), and I’ve seen a few that DON’T allow it. When in doubt, bring your own. You can always leave it in the car.
P.S. You don’t have to have a fancy berry picking bucket. A plastic grocery bag works, too.
Dress appropriately and wear sunscreen.
You’re visiting a farm. Dress for the weather and nature environment. Sun, dirt, mud… all the good stuff. Cover up toes. Wear sunscreen. Skip the sandals and sundress unless you’re willing to get them dirty…
Safety is a Priority
Stay safe on your pick your own fruit and veggie adventures. Follow some common sense rules to make sure everyone and everything stays safe!
Follow signage and directions.
Simple and straight to the point, explorers. As you get closer to the farm, and especially when you pull onto the property, follow posted signage and directions given to you by the people working. Keep everyone safe by staying on designated paths with your vehicle AND your body, park in the right locations, pick in the area you’re directed to pick in, don’t touch things that say Do Not Touch…
Stay away from farm equipment.
Speaking of not touching things… Farm equipment is expensive and dangerous heavy equipment. Stay away. Keep your kids away. Avoid the urge to plop your kid on a tractor if it’s not explicitly stated that it’s there for photo purposes.
Keep weapons at home.
Guns, knives, and medieval battle axes are best left at home. Even toy weapons are better off at home or left tucked safely in the car. It’s a family friendly environment and you’ll want to respect all families and individuals on the property!
Ask questions if you have them.
The friendly folks on the farm would be happy to answer your questions. Picking tips, farm knowledge, recommendations on how to freeze or use your pick your own berry harvest… Don’t distract a busy worker, but I’ve never met a farmer who wasn’t happy to share their knowledge with a curious mind (especially the mind of a child who wants to learn).
Respect the Farmer
Farmers work hard to put food on our tables. Let’s show them some respect by following these common sense tips when you visit.
Farm is home.
In many cases, the property you’ll be visiting is also a family home where people have children, plans, work to be done, and lives outside of people coming to pick. Research picking hours. Visit ONLY during those times. Make sure the season has started and check for weather cancellations before you show up. Farms are NOT public property open 24/7 for whoever wants to pop by. And if you bring in snacks, drinks, etc, take it back out with you, too! Keep your trash to yourself.
Keep your kids in check.
Kids will be kids- but don’t let your kids be beasts! Heh. Let your young ones know before you arrive what to do and look for. Honest mistakes will happen, but avoid picking unripe fruit, squashing or damaging plants, or generally terrorizing the property or other visitors. I like to hit up a park or let my kids runs in the yard before we go picking so they have a chance to get out all that BIG energy that’s sometimes destructive.
Keep your pets at home.
Every now and then you’ll find a location (usually a large farm that also offers other entertainment) that won’t mind you bringing your fuzzy family member. Most places? Please keep them at home. If you do happen upon a farm that welcomes your pup, come prepared to be a responsible owner with harness and leash, water, and waste bags.
‘Cash only’ means cash only.
Here’s another good reason to check their site before you arrive to pick your own fruit or veggies! If they only accept cash, there are no exceptions. Keep in mind that farms are vast expanses of land. They don’t always have service to be running cards or checking apps (and some just don’t want to pay processing fees- and that’s fair, too)!
Pay first. Eat second.
You’ll be paying based on weight once you finish picking. Chowing down on the goods while you pick is actually stealing. Not to mention, most farmers will advise that you bring them home and wash them first!
Follow the golden rule. Remember you’re a visitor on someone’s property. They want you to enjoy your time there just as much as you want to enjoy your time there!