[NAFEX] Selling fruit (small scale)
bmayfield at opusnet.com
Sun May 25 14:34:45 EDT 2008
Mark, Jim, Ginda et al,
I have grown my own strawberries, bought at U-Pick and bought from
Growing one's own in northwest Oregon means fighting slugs, birds,
quack grass and Himalayan blackberries from seeds dropped by birds.
If I am buying, I prefer U-Pick for the sake of economy. The U-Pick
growers have to cover the expense of fighting natural hazards while
still making a profit, but the farmers' market growers also have to
compensate for the added expense of pickers' wages. Obviously, if I
U-Pick I should figure in the wage I would get for my time if I were
paid. Another problem is variety. Sometimes the only decent variety
is available from only one source.
As to the problem of half ripe berries, it is easy to flip up a
strawberry before picking it to see if it is fully ripe, whether it
is in one's own garden or a U-Pick field. Unfortunately, not all of
the berries at farmers' markets are fully ripe. Raspberries, being
more delicate, obviously present different problems.
As far as eating in the field, yes, it is fun in my own garden, but I
do not spray. I wouldn't dream of eating in a commercial field, not
knowing what pesticides, etc. may have been sprayed. Those
strawberries come home to be washed before eating.
Perhaps (and this is just a thought) some of the U-Pick problem could
be solved by treating it like a wine-tasting done at a winery in
hopes of encouraging customers to taste and then buy some bottles.
A platter of strawberries could be offered at the gate with a sign
"Please try one of these Blank variety berries, which have been
washed. Eating in the field is discouraged because pesticide residue
may remain, and berries should be taken home and washed before eating."
At 09:18 AM 5/25/2008, Ginda wrote:
>...... Original Message .......
>On Sun, 25 May 2008 10:40:18 -0500 "Jim Fruth" <jfruth at tds.net> wrote:
> >Mark Angermayer asked about selling fruit. I'll report to the two methods
> >we have tried, at farmers' markets and U-Pick.
> > . . .
> >We tried doing a U-Pick . . .
> > WHAT A ZOO! We quickly learned that we had made a tragic mistake.
> >of our U-Pick customers were (sort of) wonderful but the minority turned
> >out to be too much to deal with. Some people who paid to get in felt they
> >had the right to pick anywhere and anything they wanted, and worse; they
> >stepped anywhere, smashed bushes wrecked stuff and more. We had to treat
> >them like four-year-olds! The biggest problem is that all pickers,
> >including those that seemed wonderful, dropped alot of berries.
>I read an analysis of the economics of u-pick farms in NJ several years ago
>and one of the most striking figures was the perecent of fruit (or other
>produce) that's wasted on a u-pick farm. I forget the actual figure, but
>it was more than half. Customers don't want to take anything that isn't
>'perfect', so they'll leave slightly blemished fruit to rot. If they pick
>something and notice it isn't perfect (under-ripe, over-ripe, blemished,
>whatever) they will drop it. U-pick customers are also sloppy and miss
>some of the 'perfect' fruit until it's over-ripe.
>As both a backyard gardener and a u-pick customer I admit to being a lot
>pickier about u-pick fruit than about my own.
> >All those
> >dropped berry seeds grow! And become weeds that I have to pull out.
> >to the problem is that not all seeds sprout in the same year so year after
> >year I'm having to pull seedlings from the same spots.
>This is less of a problem with apples, peaches, cherries, tomatoes, and
>sweet corn, which is mostly what I've 'u-picked'
> > And then there is the problem of pickers eating more berries than they
> >put in their container. Two people would enter at the same time and leave
> >together, one with several gallons of berries and the other with only a
> >handful, having eaten the rest. A fellow I know who runs a U-Pick has a
> >scale at the entrance to the berry patch; he weighs pickers coming in and
> >going our and they pay the difference.
>Here I have mixed feelings. Of course the farmer needs to be paid, but
>part of the reason people go to 'u-pick' places is for the experience, and
>frankly, the natural experience of picking berries includes a lot of eating
>berries. When I pick my own raspberries I rarely bring more than half of
>what I pick into the house. My experience harvesting wild blueberries and
>picking my backyard blueberries is similar. Berries are so wonderful
>picked fresh, and so fragile and hard to get home intact.
>if I pick apples, I may try one or two, and easily fill a heavy bag to take
>home. Berries are just different.
>Weighing the customers will drive away the women and tempt the men to pee
>in your bushes, but I wonder if it wouldn't make sense to charge by the
>hour, instead of by the pound, and encourage your customers to enjoy the
>berries however they see fit? I've never tried to administer a u-pick
>farm, so I have no idea if this would work.
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