Across the United States, pick-your-own farms (or U-pick farms, as they’re sometimes known) are rapidly pluming with popularity. In short, pick-your-own is exactly what it sounds like: choosing your own fruits and vegetables. Easy enough, right? So why all the hubbub around them?
Simply put, pick-your-own operations give communities the chance to take a huge chunk out of their collective environmental footprint. Again, it’s simple: the more produce you snatch up on your own time, the less environmental strain there is in the logistical process of getting it from the big manufacturers to your home (think about all the gas and electricity it takes to get through the entire transportation process alone).
You might think it all sounds a bit idealistic – perhaps even a bit behind the times. What attracts many people to pick-your-own farms is its marriage to the organic experience – that in-the-moment, do-good feeling that assures them they’re doing their part for mother nature. But really, that’s only a sliver of what makes pick-your-own such a cool concept. To boot, it can also be quite a bit cheaper than buying fruits and vegetables from your local grocery store.
Think about it: most U-pick farms don’t need a huge staff to run their operations. Essentially, the customers play the part of the farmer since they’re the ones actually harvesting produce from the plant or tree. That helps to keep operating costs low, which in turn helps keep the price of produce low. In all, U-pick farms can be pretty friendly to your wallet if you know how to spot a ripe veggie from a rotten one.
Furthermore, U-pick is a healthy experience for everyone involved. It gives you a little more insight into where your food comes from, and gives you a family-friendly outlet to do something productive for yourself, the community and the environment all in one trip to the orchard. It might seem like a foreign concept when you first get started, but once you get picking you’ll see how truly addictive it can be.
Oh – and did I mention my favorite part? Most pick-your-own farms let you eat as you pick, so there’s no need to stick to that old dictum that you shouldn’t shop while you’re hungry because you’ll end up with a bunch of impulse buys. Eat till your heart’s content! Just make sure you save some for the pantry.
Kristina Ross is a freelancer and part-time blogger for Save On Energy. Her interests include organic foods, making her own juices and keeping busy in the kitchen any way she can!