U-Pick Etiquette 101
I encourage you to visit the local farms to meet the proud farmers who toil in the garden and orchard from dawn to dusk growing healthy produce. Picking your own fresh fruits and vegetables is a real treat, there is nothing quite like harvesting your own produce fresh from the farm. U-picks are a privilege, many farmers are no longer willing to open themselves up to liability, therefore very few farms permit u-picking.
For those unfamiliar with farming life and the hard work that goes into maintaining fruit trees and garden crops, I provide you with the following u-pick guidelines to insure we continue to share this enriching experience and pass it down to our children. Some of these may be obvious, but I’ve seen some horrors out there over the years and we need some ground rules.
I suggest you print a copy of these guidelines and read them in the car on the way to the farm ensuring everyone understands our respect for the farm and farmers.
- Never climb the fruit trees! Trees are fragile living things and will not support your weight. If you break a branch or scrape off it’s bark, it jeopardizes the whole tree and exposes it to diseases and insects and less fruit will grow next year. I had the misfortune of witnessing a young boy fall from a tree and impaled on a branch a few years ago. It wasn’t pretty!
- Teach your children to pick only ripe fruit. Once it’s picked, it can’t be glued back on the tree to mature. If you pick it, you pay for it.
- Farms are not Disneyland, they don’t have parking for hoards of visitors. Please carpool, visit mid-week if possible and leave your pets at home (they aren’t allowed at any of the farms, it’s the law). Wear appropriate footwear; fields and orchards can be muddy, uneven soil and irrigation equipment abounds. Watch where you’re walking to prevent injury to yourself or the farm. If you break off an irrigation head, you’ll be contributing to wasted water and extra expense for the farmer.
- Don’t pull branches down to reach fruit, they will break. The best fruit is low to the ground in the center of the tree.
- Don’t steal from farmers! Farming is a business and a labor of love. More than likely, the fruit at the family farm will be more expensive than at your local Safeway and more nutritious. If you pick it, you pay for it.
- Picnics are not allowed in the orchards. If you bring water bottles into the farm, please take the empties leave with you.
- Don’t pick more than you can use or share with your family or friends. Fresh produce won’t keep more than a week.
- Don’t step on garden plants. If you step on the plant it will die and all it’s fruit will rot. Be respectful of the farmers hard work.
- Tasting of fruit is to be expected. There is no need to eat half a peach or apple and then throw the rest away. Bring a pocket knife and share it with your friends and family. If you eat a pound of cherries or peaches, give the farmer a few extra dollars to thank them for their hard work and this wonderful experience.
- Bring your own containers for your fruit. Farmers have to pay for these containers they provide. Be a good sport and bring your own cardboard box or plastic tubs to take your produce home.
- Have fun and share this experience with friends and family so that we can continue to support these local family farms.