'Pick your own' farms provide source of fresh, local produce
Finding fresh, locally grown produce is not hard, if you know where to look. Some families look no further than their own backyard gardens. But for those without a backyard garden, nor the time or inclination to garden, fresh produce can be found in community supported agriculture (CSA) co-ops, farmers markets and a few "pick your own” gardens.
The majority of the “pick your own” farms offer fruit and/or a variety of berries. Among the few “pick your own” produce farms are Day Farms in Layton, Farnsworth Farms and Cider Mill in Sandy, and Bascom Farm Produce in Orem.
Day Farms is a 20-year-old family farm located on West Gentile Road in Layton, operated by Bill Day and his sons, Tom and David.
“We are trying to preserve the farming way of life,” VeeAnn Day said in a recent interview. VeeAnn, David’s wife, works with the sales end of the business.
“We have a lot of families come pick produce,” VeeAnn Day said. “It gives kids a chance to see where food comes from. I’ve observed that when kids pick their own fruit and vegetables, they are more likely to eat it.”
“A ‘pick your own experience’ gives the consumer a chance to see and taste produce and fruit that has ripened in the garden,” said David Cornaby of Cornaby’s Farm in Salem, Utah. “Many people have never tasted field ripe food. Most food that is shipped to our local markets has been bred for its shipping quality, not for its taste.”
“We come here (to Bascom Farm Produce) because this is a guaranteed way of getting local produce,” Jen Bracken-Hull said. “It’s different than farmers markets because we can pick what we want. It’s also good for my little girl to see where food comes from.”
McBride’s Briar Patch, an acre and a half berry farm in Mapleton, is owned by Wayne and Joyce McBride. They grow a wide variety of raspberries and blackberries. “Families come to pick berries for home evenings,” Joyce said. “BYU students come to pick as a date.”
However, there can be a downside to the “pick your own” experience.
“ ‘Pick your own’ produce presents challenges because of the liability,” said Dean Miner, director of the Utah County Extension Service in Provo. “Produce picked by nonprofessionals often damages a garden, as well.”
To make your “pick your own” experience positive and to limit the possibility of injury while picking your own food, follow these tips.
• Dress appropriately. The ground may be uneven, or there may be rocks or insects, so don’t wear flip-flops or sandals. Long-sleeved shirts and long pants will help protect arms and legs from scratchy leaves or berry thorns and bugs. Wear a hat and/or sunscreen.
• Walk in the paths provided, not through or on the plants.
• Be gentle with the plants. Don’t yank, pull or break leaves or stems when picking.
• If you don’t know if something is ready to pick or you’re not sure how to pick it, ask the farmer.
• Most “pick your own” farm websites share the following kind of information: a phone number, driving directions, information about what kind of produce is currently ready for picking, and prices.
However, websites don’t always contain current information. So it is advisable to phone ahead to find out what is actually available, what current prices are, hours for picking and if containers are provided to carry the picked produce, or if you need to bring your own.
• Although some farms may accept credit cards, be prepared to pay with cash or a check.