It’s not often I get to write an etiquette post, but as our u-pick season is right around the corner it seemed like a good time to review a few things. Berry picking is a fun activity and a good learning opportunity, but it goes better for both the pickers and the farmers if some rules are followed. These general rules of berry picking apply not only if you come and visit Cornaby’s (generally starting the second to third week of August!) but should apply to any u-pick opportunity.
1 – Dress appropriately. This rule is for your benefit and comfort. Berry picking days are often sunny and hot and you don’t want to end up sunburned and scratched! Light weight clothing with long sleeves is a good idea and if you are going to be out for very long you may want to consider a hat as well. Always wear sturdy shoes, structured sandles are okay, but closed tennis shoes or boots are even better.
2 – Always call ahead. Farmers keep close track as to what is ripe when and how many people they can put into their fields. Often they can manage adding one or two people, but if you come with an entire scout troop to pick berries it’s hard to accommodate at the last minute.
3 – Listen to the farmer’s briefing on any hazards you should be aware of. Most farms are very safe, but there is equipment which should be avoided and, in our case and many others, there may be things like bee hives on the land. The last thing we want is an accidental incident between humans and bees!
4 – Stay in the rows where the farmer has asked you to. When it comes to berry picking the farmer maps out what rows get picked on what days and goes through a rotation so that fruit doesn’t rot on the bush and there is always plenty to pick for both his crew and for u-pickers that come to visit. If you wander through the field picking a little here and a little there it throws off this schedule as well as being dangerous as the farmer doesn’t know where you are anymore. There will be plenty to pick where you are sent, though it requires getting in there and lifting those vines to get at the beauties underneath.
5 – Berry picking is not an all you can eat buffet. Yes, you’re going to eat a berry or two particularly if you have children with you. We expect that, but as you pay by the pound for the fruit it is very unfair to the farmer if you pick one and eat five only paying for the one. Kids who come picking need to learn this lesson too. We try to keep our rates very reasonable and we love having you come, but the only way we can keep our pricing reasonable and the opportunity for u-pick open is if we can cover the cost.
So there are a few things to think about when you consider berry picking as a summer activity. Keeping these rules in mind will make the experience better for everyone and we’ll be able to offer opportunities for years to come.