How U-Pick Farming Can Be A Sustainable Option For Your Operation

If the idea of letting strangers onto your farm to harvest your crops without any previous experience or training sounds a little strange — or worse yet, dangerous — then perhaps all you need is a little perspective.

Lisa Schacht of Schacht Farm Market in Winchester, OH.
Lisa Schacht of Schacht Farm Market in Winchester, OH.

Vegetable growing operations across the country have incorporated U-Pick or “pick your own” (PYO) options into their farms for several reasons — supplemental income being paramount — and are reaping the rewards, whileat the same time promoting agricultural awareness to the public.

One operation in particular, Schacht Farm Market in Winchester, OH, has experienced the benefits of the U-Pick trend over the last couple decades, and is using it as a way to remain sustainable and to offer a valuable experience to community members interested in getting their hands dirty and learning where their food comes from.

The Schacht’s U-Pick offerings include strawberries, peas, green beans, tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, and fall greens. Of the 130 acres the Schachts have on their central Ohio farm, 5 are dedicated solely to U-Pick vegetables.

When they initially incorporated U-Pick into their farm in the ‘90s, owners Lisa Schacht and her husband David were motivated by a different set of circumstances than you might associate with the trend now. At the time, most of the Schachts’ crops required hand harvesting, and they were having trouble amassing enough labor to get the job done.

They saw the trend cropping up in other area farms and used that as an opportunity to bring people onto the farm, give them direct access to the produce, and get help with some of the hard work.

“Our intent was, if these people are interested in doing this, and we need the work done, why not offer them the opportunity to do it themselves?” she says.

During the ‘80s, as Schacht explains it, a lot of her U-Pick customers would come to the farm to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables in the fall for the winter. But in the ‘90s the trend evolved to a more “experience-oriented” activity, where people became interested in spending time with their family outdoors in a rural setting.

Of all the crops the Schachts have offered in their U-Pick operation, pumpkins are by far the easiest and safest for the customers to pick.
Of all the crops the Schachts have offered in their U-Pick operation, pumpkins are by far the easiest and safest for the customers to pick.

Choose Crops Carefully
In the beginning, the Schachts offered a limited selection of crops as U-Pick because they realized they were essentially allowing unskilled laborers onto the farm to harvest crops, and they needed to be able to control the situation.

The U-Pick crops had to be easily identifiable at maturity, sturdy, and be able to tolerate a variety of picking styles, so they went with strawberries in the springtime and pumpkins in the fall.

A lot of careful consideration goes into choosing the right U-Pick crops, and Schacht has used both trial and error and common sense to determine what works, and what does not.

Of all the crops she’s offered, she says that pumpkins are by far the easiest and safest for the customers to pick, because at harvest time the plant is already on its decline, and its handles make for easy picking. She also mentions that greens have been a good option for her customers, but require a little more supervision and guidance, which her workers are more than happy to provide.

Pages: 1 2

Topics: , ,

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “How U-Pick Farming Can Be A Sustainable Option For Your Operation

Marketing Stories

FruitsFlorida Fruit & Vegetable Association Seeks Fresh Approach To Marketing
September 17, 2014
New partnership bolsters Fresh From Florida program. Read More
Fruits5 Mistakes You May Be Making With Your Orchard’s Website
September 15, 2014
These deadly sins may be hurting your customers’ experience — and costing you money. Read More
MarketingMarketer Finds Niche With First-Of-Its-Kind Orange Maze
September 12, 2014
Who says an old dog can’t learn new tricks? Not Bob McKellar, creator of the first orange maze in the U.S. Read More
CitrusHarness The Marketing Power Of Video
September 1, 2014
Multimedia platform is an effective and inexpensive marketing tool for you to attract new customers and keep existing ones loyal to your brand. Read More
FruitsEuropean Fruit And Vegetable Growers Hit By Russian Ban Compensated
August 19, 2014
Angry at European Union/United States sanctions over Ukraine, Russia has banned many food imports. Read More
Apples & PearsUSApple Takes First Place At Agricultural Editors’ Awards
August 13, 2014
Organization is honored for web presence and healthy eating campaign. Read More
CitrusMiffed By Marketing? You’re Not Alone [Opinion]
August 13, 2014
Properly promoting product involves engaging your target audience to meet their needs. But based on the campaigns dominating airtime, many are missing the mark. Read More

The Latest

FruitsFlorida Fruit & Vegetable Association Seeks Fresh A…
September 17, 2014
New partnership bolsters Fresh From Florida program. Read More
Fruits5 Mistakes You May Be Making With Your Orchard’s …
September 15, 2014
These deadly sins may be hurting your customers’ experience — and costing you money. Read More
MarketingMarketer Finds Niche With First-Of-Its-Kind Orange Maze
September 12, 2014
Who says an old dog can’t learn new tricks? Not Bob McKellar, creator of the first orange maze in the U.S. Read More
MarketingIdaho Potato Truck Nominates Several Commodity Boards T…
September 4, 2014
After dousing, 'Tater Team' calls out Florida Department of Citrus, Washington Apples, and Georgia Peaches in viral charity campaign. Read More
CitrusHarness The Marketing Power Of Video
September 1, 2014
Multimedia platform is an effective and inexpensive marketing tool for you to attract new customers and keep existing ones loyal to your brand. Read More
CitrusFlorida Department Of Citrus Knocks NPR Piece Over Juic…
August 28, 2014
Agency goes to bat for the industry regarding statement slighting OJ's health benefits. Read More
CitrusCalifornia Citrus Cleared For Chinese Export
August 25, 2014
New agreement addresses concerns over brown rot. Read More
FruitsEuropean Fruit And Vegetable Growers Hit By Russian Ban…
August 19, 2014
Angry at European Union/United States sanctions over Ukraine, Russia has banned many food imports. Read More
Apples & PearsUSApple Takes First Place At Agricultural Editors’ Aw…
August 13, 2014
Organization is honored for web presence and healthy eating campaign. Read More
CitrusMiffed By Marketing? You’re Not Alone [Opinion]
August 13, 2014
Properly promoting product involves engaging your target audience to meet their needs. But based on the campaigns dominating airtime, many are missing the mark. Read More
Fruits4 Creative Ideas For Your Farm’s Direct Marketing…
August 8, 2014
While there is no recipe for the perfect activity for your farm, these venues have carved their own path through new offerings. Read More
FruitsRussia Bans All U.S. Agriculture Products
August 7, 2014
One-year embargo also includes fruits and vegetables from Canada, the European Union, and beyond. Read More
CucurbitsBaloian Farms Takes Home The People’s Choice Awar…
August 6, 2014
Baloian Farms received an award for their squash with seasoning kits at the 4th Annual Fresno Food Expo in California. Read More
FruitsNew Data Reflects Continued Demand For Farmers Markets
August 4, 2014
Three new USDA directories help connect consumers and farmers through local food opportunities. Read More
CitrusGrowingProduce.com Relaunches With Responsive Design Fo…
August 4, 2014
New look offers customized experience for users depending on their device – phones, tablets, and desktop computers. Read More
Farm ManagementUse Social Marketing To Align Your Consumers With A Cau…
July 30, 2014
Social marketing aims to bring attention, support, and action to a cause, and can help increase your business’ bottom line. Read More
Farm ManagementGet To Know NAFDMA, An Organization With A Focus On Dir…
July 23, 2014
North American Farmers’ Direct Marketing Association, or NAFDMA, is an association devoted to this growing industry. Members include farmers, farmers’ market managers, Extension agents, industry suppliers, government officials, and others in the farm direct marketing industry in North America. Read More
Apples & PearsNew York Apple Association Updates Website In Time For …
July 22, 2014
NYAA launches a new, consumer-friendly website. Read More