Pick-your-own berry patches operate in two different ways – 1. they assign the rows people are able to pick or 2. it’s a free for all. I prefer the free for all since it gives me the most control over what I pick. However, it also gives everyone else more control too and that can be frustrating sometimes.
I may be preaching to the choir here but maybe there will be one or two of you out there new to berry picking and this will help you out a bit.
First of all, don’t get in the same row as someone else – especially right in front of them. This happened to me this morning. I started a one end of a row of black raspberries and was working my way down the whole row. My plan was to pick the whole row and leave with 6-8 pounds of berries. As I was nearing the home stretch and had just about 5 or 6 bushes till the end a woman and her two young sons hopped right in there and started picking. They clearly saw me. I politely asked them if they could move rows as I had already worked my way down from the far end and was planning on finishing up at the end of the row. She apologized and looked for a new starting point.
There is usually plenty of space for all of us. And besides, I’d already picked the rest of the row so after a couple of bushes she wouldn’t have found much.
Berry patches are a family friendly place or at least they should be. I love to see kids picking berries and enjoying the experience of harvesting the fruit. However, kids need to be kept under control in the berry patch. You shouldn’t allow your kids to skip rows and move all around and you also shouldn’t allow them to act like hooligans. Berries are fragile and if they’re tromping all over the place they’re likely crushing quite a few.
Sampling a few berries in the field is all part of the experience but if your kids are eating substantially more than what is going in their bucket you’re basically stealing from the farm. That isn’t ok. The farmers work really hard to provide these berries for us and they deserve a pay off.
Show up at the field prepared. Bring your own container if you’ve got one and you’ll save a buck or two. Bring a raincoat and your boots (as pictured below) and the elements won’t affect your picking at all. Respect the farm’s hours. Don’t show up 20 minutes before they close and try to pick 5 lbs. of berries. Take cash or your checkbook. Many small farms do not accept credit cards. Call ahead to check on their hours and ask about the crop. Sometimes small patches get “picked out” and they’ll close early. It sucks to drive out of your way just to show up to a closed sign.
Did I forget anything? Does anyone else have something to add?
And in other news – black raspberries are here! Woohoo!