There’s a lot of great stuff about this time of year. One of the best, and maybe the least known, is the availability of the Pick Your Own Farm. Also called U-Pick or PYO, these farms are wonderful places to take your family. In some cities, these businesses are referred to as agri-business, basically business that occurs on a farm.
In the United States, picking your own berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries), apples, and vegetables is most common. Pumpkin patches, often with associated corn mazes, hay rides and wagon rides are common in the fall. Urban legend has it that You Pick Farms started after WWI, when labor was hard to come by and farmers were short on workers.
In years past, the typical customer at a You Pick Farm was a mother with her children, looking to pick fruits and veggies for fun, as well as saving money. Now the most common reason people visit the You Pick Farms is to avoid chemical residues and pesticides.
Reasons to visit a You Pick Farm:
- Cost – Typically the prices of fruits and vegetables are lower at a You Pick Farm than at a grocery store
- Taste – Foods picked for sale in a grocery store are often picked early and lose much of their taste in transit. Foods picked fresh off the farm can be allowed to remain on the vine, growing sweeter and more ripe
- Pesticide use – Often a local farm will use less pesticides, and many fruits and vegetables are not treated with preservatives to keep them safe for travel
- Sustainable, local foods – Better for the body and better for the environment thanks to less fuel used to bring the food to the stores
- Education – Visiting a You Pick Farm is an excellent way to teach your children about the dynamics of farming. And children who are involved in picking their own foods are far more likely to eat them.
We typically visit several You Pick Farms in a summer. We pick strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and peaches. We then freeze some, can some, make jam, and above all, eat more than we think our bellies can hold. Visiting a You Pick Farm is one of the best things you can do with your family!