There are many pick-your-own farms that give urban dwellers in the United States and Canada the opportunity to experience the natural pleasure of picking their own fruits and vegetables straight from the ground.  This is a great family activity which can be enjoyed by both adults and children. It is also an affordable form of entertainment since the bounty you collect also doubles as grocery items for the week. 

Where and When to Go

Pick-your-own farm locations can be found using a quick internet search. Where and when you choose to go depends on what you want to pick. It is important to call the farm you choose in advance to find out what they have planted and when they would recommend you come. Each province or state will has its own harvest calendar depending on the climate and soil conditions of the area. Call early to make sure you don’t miss the season.

How to Prepare

Before you head out for your first pick-your-own experience you will want to make sure that you dress appropriately and bring the right supplies. You should treat this activity as a day trip, especially if you will need to drive a fair distance to your chosen farm.

Make sure you bring a water bottle and your own snacks. Even though you will be surrounded by fruits and vegetables, you should resist the urge to snack on them as you pick them. This is usually against the rules of the farm, and it is also inadvisable to eat fruits and vegetables without washing them first.

You will need to bring your own containers for picking and carrying your fruits home. Some farms will provide them, but only if you pay an additional fee. If you are bringing children, it is a good idea to prepare small containers that they can hold themselves.

You should dress in old clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty and athletic shoes. You will likely be standing and moving around a lot, so you want to focus on dressing for comfort. You should also wear a wide-brimmed hat and use plenty of sunscreen to avoid getting burned.  

It is also a good idea to bring some small hand towels and disposable wipes that you can use to clean your hands and anything else that might be muddy while you are out on the farm.

Make sure that each member of your party has a watch, cell phone, or other method of telling time. It is easy to lose track of time when you are engaged in a joyful physical activity like picking fruit, so it is important that everyone in your group is mindful of when you will be meeting for lunch or to go home.

What to Do When You Arrive

The first thing you should do when you arrive is to ask the farm hands for advice. They will be able to give you tips on how to pick the best fruits and vegetables and will also direct you to sections of the farm that haven’t be picked out by previous guests. They will also tell you how they will charge you for what you have picked. The cost is usually by weight, volume, or count. There might also be a minimum quantity requirement, so you will want to make sure you pick at least the minimum amount of fruit.

Also make sure that you understand and follow the rules of the farm. Some farms are more relaxed and some are stricter. You should always be respectful of the care and effort that it takes to maintain a farm. If you have children this is a good opportunity to teach them that plants, just like animals, are living things that must be handled with care. Never step on any plants and be mindful of traveling through the rows the way that the farmers have intended.

Most farms do not allow pets in the field because of health regulations and fears that they will damage the plants.

Fields and orchards can be large, especially if it is your first time, so it is important to set a meeting place and time so your family will be able to find each other later. This is especially important for families with children. It can be easy for children to wander off and not know how to find their parents, so make sure you watch any young children closely and give specific instructions to older children on where the family will reconvene. 

Enjoying Your Fruit

At the end of the day it is your choice how you want to enjoy your freshly picked fruit. You may want to eat it immediately or plan to freeze, can, or make preserves from the extra fruit. It is important to wash your fruit thoroughly before you enjoy them, no matter how tempted you may be to snack on them during the car ride home.