5 Reasons You Must U-Pick This Summer

by Georgie Smith, farmergeorgiewrites@gmail.com

Picking vegetables, fruit and flowers is a wonderful summer-time experience

Summer is in full swing and the bounty of your local farm community is at full production peak for the next few months. 

Is there any better way to enjoy and cherish the harvest days than going out and u-picking some of it yourself? We think not. 

Here are five reasons that, just as soon as you finish reading this post, you need to go look up a local u-pick farm and get u-picking!

1) – You Make Memories U-Picking Berries, Fruits, Flowers and Vegetables

How does that saying going? “Let’s make memories?”

Nothing quite as wonderful as tasting the strawberry you picked yourself!

So, remind me. When was the last time you reminisced with your family and friends about that one time you ‘all sat around doing nothing together while you all stared at your devices?’

That’s what we thought. 

The experiences we cherish are the ones that get us DOING something. A task, even a challenging one, that requires some effort, getting outside of our box and has a start, middle and end. 

When you go to u-pick – and bring your family and friends – you arrive with nothing. And leave with the satisfaction of the bounty you picked – and the ‘experience’ of the journey it took to fill up your flats, bags and baskets.

Maybe during that picking time you threw a rotten tomato at your brother. Or found the biggest beetle you’ve ever seen, named him “Fred.” Discovered that bending over and crawling through strawberry fields is back (and knee!) breaking work. Ate so many raspberries your teeth were stained pink (looked great in the Instagram photos).  

These are all ‘experiences’ that created laughter and surprise, maybe even annoyance and frustration you’ll (hopefully) laugh about later. 

They are ‘memories.’

2) – U-picking is Healthy and Gets You Moving! 

Not even counting the healthy, nutritional aspects of the fresh-as-you-can-get-it food you just picked, getting outside, moving and DOING something are all incredibly important to our physical and mental well-being. 

U-pick flowers are also a great choice and so much fun to pick yourself!

Just a 15-minute walk once a day will increase your lifespan, boost your brain-power, ease depression and all sorts of other good things.

But we all know how hard it can be to mentally motivate for that daily work-out. 

Well go u-pick and that’s one day you can skip the gym, guilt-free. And the best part, you won’t even REALIZE you were working out! 

It’s easy enough to forget to count your steps when you are searching for raspberries or skip the repetition regime when you are reaching and grabbing, reaching and grabbing, for handfuls of green beans. And how much simpler is it to just ‘ignore the burn’ of those horrible squats when you are rewarded with juicy ripe strawberries?

3) – You’ll Learn Something New at a U-Pick Local Farm

Whether you are an inspiring gardener, or one that has years of experience already, going to U-pick at a local farm will undoubtedly teach you a thing or two. 

After all, even farmers go to other farms to tour them and learn new techniques and ideas. So why shouldn’t you?

You might discover a new way to trellis your raspberry patch or learn how to (finally) properly prune your tomatoes.  

Or be introduced to new and different varieties of plants you’ve already been growing. A raspberry fan? Well…how about golden raspberries? Or black-cap raspberries? 

You might be inspired to try your hand at growing a crop you had never even considered. Now you see how it can be done and it doesn’t seem so challenging. 

Farmer Mark Lovejoy at Garden Treasures Nursery and Organic Farm showing off his crop of cucumbers.

Going to a u-pick farm is a great way to pick a farmer’s brain. It can be hard to ask questions in a busy market situation. But when you come out to their farm and you are doing the picking work yourself, it changes the dynamic. Suddenly it’s a lot easier to monopolize some of the farmer’s time.

Farmers really DO love talking about their farm, and what they do.  Especially when they are comfortably on their ‘home-turf.’

#4 – You can Get it Right When You U-Pick!

Want to make Aunt Susie’s Perfect Pickled Pepperoncini recipe for Christmas gifts this year and that requires 2-inch long, perfectly yellow Italian style peppers? 

Or how about you’re making dilly beans and you can only use beans of a certain length circumference AND they must be very fresh and ‘snappy.’

 Your prized pickled cornichon recipe that wins grand prize at the county fair every year does so because you know when you see it what’s the perfect size/shape/texture cucumber to use. 

Your best bet is to pick those yourself.

Are these the perfect-sized cucumbers for your project?

Asking a busy, overwhelmed farmer in the midst of harvest insanity to sort out a flat of vegetables or berries to your exact specifications can be an exercise in frustration for both you and the farmer. For expediency and time-management’s sake, harvesting for the farmer typically involves harvesting ALL the vegetables or berries of a certain crop as they are ready. That means there can be a wide variability at times as far as size, ripeness and other factors. 

It is difficult to explain to the farmer (who then usually has to explain it to a harvest employee), exactly what YOU are looking for. 

Those are things that are hard to expect others to do for you.

Conversely, if you are looking for a good deal and don’t mind dealing with veggies or berries that might not make it to the normal sales table, picking yourself is a great solution for a good deal. Ask the farmer if you can take those mis-marked tomatoes, or slightly scabby apples, off their hands for them at a discounted price. (Always ask first though! Never assume!). 

5) – We don’t Really Know Why, But U-pick Just Tastes Better

We can’t quantify exactly why u-pick tastes better. There are no real scientific principles to explain it. But it does. 

Certainly, the fruit and vegetables are as fresh as you can get. But if you frequent that farmer’s market stand as well, you are most likely purchasing produce picked just that day already.  

You also DO get that exercise and movement we talked about earlier, not to mention the fresh country air, and that will build up an appetite and make that food even more satisfying when you eat it.

Honestly, we think it comes down to the experiential part of the whole experience. When you engage in the food production process – at some point or another – it tends to mentally prime you to enjoy and savor your food more than if you were completely removed from the way that food got to your plate. 

Think about…what are some of the most memorable food experiences you’ve ever enjoyed? 

That trout you caught fly-fishing with your granddad. Or the time you were out camping and found a patch of wild blackberries and created a campfire berry pie. Or those steamed green beans you just picked with you five-year-old at the local farm that morning. 

Where To Go to Find A Local U-Pick and a Few Rules of the Road

What’s available for u-pick, when and where will depend on your region and it’s growing strengths. In a big area of orchards – most likely you will find some places to pick apples and tree-bearing fruit. In a big berry region – lots of u-pick berries. You get the drift.

Also, when crops are ready to u-pick will follow the regional schedule. If strawberries are typically being harvested in your area in June, don’t expect to find u-pick available for them in August.

To find local u-pick farms check with local and regional farm organizations. We do like this national website for finding u-pick farms – and great tips and processing recipes as well – Pick Your Own.

Once you get to your u-pick farm, make sure to understand the rules and processes for that farm. Each farm will have their own set-up. But the important thing to remember is to be respectful, courteous and conscious of the farm rules. Stay within the allowed areas and follow the directions.

Enjoy your u-pick bounties and make some u-pick memories this summer!

Located in the greater Seattle region and interested in checking out Garden Treasure’s u-pick offerings this summer? We typically offer berry, tomatoes, flowers, cucumbers, peppers and green beans for u-pick as the crops come on. Check our website to find out our current availability for u-pick crops.

Interested in Keeping Up With Garden Treasures Nursery and Organic Farm latest farm news? Sign Up for our Newsletter right HERE

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