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Pick your own farms can give you a chance to stockpile your food storage pantry with fruits and vegetables for a year.
We do not have a garden large enough to sustain our family for a year. We’re working towards that goal, but we’re not there, yet. We also cannot always rely on the grocery stores to be able to stock food year round, fresh from local farms, at prices and flavors that we like. So one of our alternatives is to use a Pick Your Own farm to gather fruits and vegetables you cannot grow on your own or purchase in a sufficient quantity (or at a price you are willing to pay) to increase your own food storage. Not only is it a great reference for where to pick, but they have tons of information on what to do with it AFTER you pick! You can find farms that specialize in one type of crop or that have a wide variety for you to choose from. In many of them, you can purchase pre-picked fruit or vegetables without doing any of the work yourself, and still get fresher produce that what you can buy at the market. We went one VERY hot, Texas day a couple of years ago to pick blueberries at a farm that specializes in blueberries and blackberries. We went the day after they’d had a big family festival, so the pickings were slim on a lot of the acreage as it had been picked over in a huge way (note that when you’re scheduling your picking day.) So it took us much longer to fill our 5 gallon buckets than it typically might have taken. We were there for about 4 hours and came away with 5 gallons of blueberries per family. I’ll be honest that it didn’t help that we did sample a bit of what we were picking, too, which is also why it took a little longer 😉
What Happened Next
Once we had our buckets filled, we were able to go to their services to have the blueberries cleaned and packaged. Then we came home. Tired, sweaty, dirty, full of blueberry goodness in our bellies, and loaded with more to bring home to make things like Blueberry Soda!
Call Ahead to your local pick your own farm
- To see if there are designated times or if there are large parties already slated to be there the day you want to attend.
- To make sure that your farm is actually available for picking. The year after this photo, our area was struck by some really severe spring storms, and the hail damage killed most of the bushes on the farm. They’ve had to rebuild and still aren’t ready for public picking. They do still pick and have blueberries available for pick up only.
- To see if there is an entry fee and what the final fee will be. Our particular farm charged a flat by the bucket rate and also had pre-packaged berries available to purchase.
- To find out if the farm uses organic practices or is organic if that is important to you and your family’s health.
READ MORE: Make Blueberry Soda
What to Expect & Bring to a Pick Your Own Farm
- Be prepared for a few hours in the sun. For us, that meant wearing long sleeves, hats, sunscreen and lots and lots of water. It took us longer to pick than we had originally planned not only because the berries had been picked through, but because we grew tired pretty quickly and had to take lots of breaks for the little ones. (Read more on dressing for the weather here)
- Be prepared for bugs. You’re going to be out in nature, not at the local green grocer, so expect to find some nature. We even had a small garden snake surprise us at one point, plus got to watch a tarantula cross the road on our entrance. And yes, being the awesome homeschooling/enrichment mom, we all got out and watched — from quite a few steps away. I suppressed my girlie-girl squeal-at-a-spider impulses so I wouldn’t embarrass my kids in front of the other families, but inside, I was screaming like a little girl.
- Have a cooler ready for the ride home. Put some water bottles in there for a refreshing treat at the end of your pick time, and have a place to store your new pickings if you have a long way to drive home.
Do you use pick your own farms for produce? What have your experiences been like?