Visitor’s Guide to ‘Pick Your Own’ Farms

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 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 our table. The past couple years we’ve been visiting local pick your own farms 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 and BOND FAMILY FARMS to bring you some tips and etiquette for how to pick your own berries!

Prepare To Pick Your Own Produce

Get ready before you even walk out the door. Set your expectations, bring supplies, and make your picking visit enjoyable from the start.

Pick Your Own Farm Etiquette
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What is it like on a ‘pick your own’ farm?

Farms are big, spread out areas. You’ll enter the property and park your vehicle in a designated area. From there you’ll be walking to the fields to search and pick. There should be signage or helpful workers available to direct you where you need to go. Whether you pay before or after you pick will depend on how the farm has decided to charge customers. At some you may pay ahead for a certain size container that you can fill. At others you’ll fill your own container and pay based on weight when you’re done. Prepare yourself and your kids who may not realize all the walking required, especially if they have never visited a farm! Bring water if it’s warm weather and come ready for the experience.

Bring your own bucket- Maybe.

Check with the farm before you drive over (most have a website or Facebook page). Some places REQUIRE you to bring your own bucket, others make it optional (sometimes it saves you money), and I’ve seen a few that want to provide it to you. 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. Any bag or bucket will do, just keep in mind that juices may stain and you’ll want to consider the size of what you’re picking.

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…

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Safety is a Priority

Stay safe on your farm adventures. Follow these safety rules to make sure everyone and everything stays safe!

Follow signage and directions on the farm.

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 location, pick in the area you’re directed to pick in, don’t touch things that say Do Not Touch…

grandfather and grandson picking strawberries
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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 it 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. Same goes for cigarettes, cigars, etc. Beyond the smoke that some find unpleasant, these can also be a fire hazard on the farm. 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 best use your little 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.

Mom and toddler picking strawberries
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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.

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Keep your kids in check.

Kids will be kids- but don’t let your kids be beasts! Let your young ones know before you arrive what to do and look for. Honest mistakes will happen, but try to avoid picking unripe fruit, squashing or damaging plants, or generally terrorizing the property or other visitors. I like to stop at 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 could be 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.

Family photo at B&R farms
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‘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 likely 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!

In The End…

Follow the golden rule. Be kind and respectful. 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!

Have some good picking tips you’d like to share? Comment below and let us know!

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