You-pick Farms

  • May require long hours
  • Good for crops that are labor intensive to pick
  • Offering a variety of crops to customers is best
  • Selling value added products in addition to you-pick crops can be an added amenity

You-pick Farms

Many growers are inviting the public onto their farms to harvest their own produce. These farms known as pick-your-own, or PYO, are attractive to farmers because there is reduced labor required for harvesting and they can sell produce that is too fragile to ship. PYOs do, however, require long working hours and more liability insurance. With the right location and crop offerings, PYOs offer an opportunity to diversify existing farm businesses.

Farmers need to research the buying habits, tastes, income levels and proximity of their potential customers. Knowing customer needs can help farmers decide what to sell. Advertising can be as simple as a roadside stand or as involved as a direct mail flyer or putting ads in local papers. Planting crops that are harvested at different times can prolong the harvest season and increase
the number of customers.

PYO owners must also supply ample parking and signs providing customers with rules, prices,hours and information on crops for harvest. To maintain customer satisfaction, PYO owners should have weekend hours and stay open during spring and summer holidays. Wide, clean rows of produce and a good variety will help encourage customers to return and recommend the PYO to others.

Other Publications

Pick-Your-Own (U-Pick) Marketing PDF)
University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

Location is the most important factor in a you-pick operation. A second factor is the ease of accessibility to the crops, with adequate parking and amenities for customers. This publication discusses these factors, as well as liability issues and labor requirements of the operation.

 

Pick-Your-Own Markets (PDF)
Arizona University

There are many factors to consider when starting a pick-your-own operation. The owner/operator must perform many tasks and often work long hours. Crops should be diversified for best success, and high quality produce is a must. This publication discusses laying out the fields in order to incorporate diverse products and parking, advertising and promoting your operation, and general management concerns.

 

Case Study: Growing Profits at Home: Riley Creek Blueberry Farm (PDF)
Rural Roots and University of Idaho

This is a case study of Riley Creek Blueberry Farm. The owners sell their blueberries on-farm, as you-pick, at farmers' market, and direct to retail. They have secondary crops of raspberries, apples, and some vegetables. They also sell value-added products such as jams, syrups, toppings, and vinaigrettes.

 

Highbush Blueberries (PDF)
University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

This publication about highbush blueberries discusses the marketing of blueberries, including u-pick. It discusses the market outlook, production considerations, and economic considerations.

 

Commercial Vegetable Production (PDF)
Iowa State University

This publication discusses starting a small vegetable operation to supplement income using various markets to sell including pick-you-own operations.

 

Pick-Your-Own Operations and Farm Stands - Options for Your Business (PDF)
UW Cooperative Extension

Pick-you-own operations and farm stands are two ways to sell your agricultural products to customers. This publication discusses the considerations, requirements, and other factors involved with both of these types of operations.