By Starr Durrant First Posted 8/5/2014
If you don’t have a garden, don’t want a garden, or don’t know how to garden but still want healthy and locally grown, fresh food for the best price; the U-Pick option might be for you!
I recently spent the afternoon at a U-Pick Farm with my husband, daughter and grandson and had a wonderful time making memories. For only $20.00 I was able to pick a huge quantity and variety of fresh produce and berries that translated into 10 jars of pickles, 8 zucchini loaves, salads, beat rolls, borsch soup and so much more!
What Is A U-Pick Farm and How Does It Work?
Almost all communities have farms where you can pick your own vegetables and berries. They typically involve a Farmer who has turned a field into a mixed vegetable garden. You basically pull up and there will be signs or a person on site to direct you. Make sure and bring along a variety of bags or containers as not all U-Pick Farms provide these. Drive or walk along the side of the garden and there will be signs informing you if that section is open for picking or not and what each of the vegetables are. It’s handy to bring along a pitch fork or spade if you’re after potatoes or carrots. When you are harvesting your vegetables – it’s always a good idea to check prices first and use separate bags or containers for each type of vegetable as they will be weighed at the end and the prices vary from one vegetable to another so they need to stay separated. Not all farms have all vegetables and not all vegetables are available all the time so call ahead to inquire. If you have concerns about pesticide or fertilizer check their website or contact them directly.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF U-PICK FARMS?
There is no question the U-Pick option means big savings. Farmers Markets can also offer affordable prices for locally fresh grown produce but the cost of labour to harvest it and transport it to the market typically results in a higher price than the U-Pick option.
The quality, taste and nutritional value that fresh picked produce offers is undeniable. How many times have you bought a package of raspberries at the store and return home to find a portion of them squashed, spoiled or under ripe; at a U-Pick Farm you select each berry and each vegetable yourself. Many of you will have heard warnings about garlic or more recently cucumbers grown in foreign filthy and toxic conditions and then pickled and sold for North American consumption. At a U-Pick Farms, you don’t have to worry about the condition your vegetables were grown in.
Pick It Yourself Farms ensure a wonderful afternoon of fresh air and exercise. Remember to wear running shoes or rubber boots because thistles aren’t uncommon, especially in around berry bushes and don’t forget to bring along your standard outdoor regalia including sunscreen, bug spray and water bottle.
Its fun for the whole family no matter what the age. It is a great activity for kids who don’t have a garden at home to learn about the different vegetables and how they grow; an experience not even the farmers market can offer. Kids learn all sorts of things like when a pea is ready to be picked or how to pluck a prickly cucumber without disrupting the vine and which berries are ripe. If you are a U-Pick newbie and unsure about how or when to pick vegetables or berries, there is always someone on site to assist you or visit About Home article Harvesting Vegetables How Do You Know When Its Time To Pick?
Pick It Yourself Versus Farmers Market
Both provide fresh, affordable, locally grown produce but U-Pick is typically less expensive; you can select the actual produce yourself ( ideal if you want a certain size of vegetable like cucumbers for pickles) and it is same day fresh but many location are on the outskirts of communities and may not have public transportation options and typically are not disability friendly or good for people with medical restriction or condition that impact their mobility. If you do have mobility issues its worth calling ahead or visiting the website for details.