[Market-farming] Pick your own strawberry operation.

Liz Pike liz at laughingbrookfarm.com
Thu May 8 12:42:04 EDT 2003

> You are going to need a large liability policy if you are going to let
> people pick on your farm.

If you intend to direct market anything...you need liability so that's a
given.  Dealing with the public, no matter what you do, carries risks.  Once
you discover the negatives to pyo, you can turn them into positives, or at
least lessen their impact.

As far as kids (or destructive adults for that matter), minimize the risks
without throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  Alot of pyo farms here
are setting up playgrounds, recreational areas, petting zoos, maizes, etc to
entertain children so moms can pick.  One has even hired baby sitters for
little ones.  Yes, it's an additional expense for which some farms charge
(customers have become used to paying for convenience) while others absorb
the cost into the budget.  On some farms the entertainment has grown to
become a separate, major income producing entity all on its own.

We all fuss about the younger generation moving away from farming, but they
are our potential customers!  Without customers, we won't be in business.  I
was in retail long enough to witness every disgusting way a human can
interrupt or ruin a business (or at least my day).  We can't let that stop

> Figure that some of your customers are going to eat along the way.  Or
> what they pick.  It's nuts.  Heck, I don't know if I could resist eating a
> berry or 12.

Most pyo grow more than enough to fill customers buckets and bellies!!  In
fact, I've read where pyo fields took less maintenance because the public
did a better job cleaning out the plants than hired help.

When I took my daughter picking with me, I used to joke with my farmer
friend that he needed to weigh her before we went in and on the way out.
The following year he put in scales and a humorous sign stating that all
customers would be weighed upon entering and exiting the fields.   It was
hilarious to watch people's reactions!  But it got them thinking about how
much they DID eat while picking and provided the opportunity for him to
mention consideration while picking.

On days I opened my gardens to the health food coop (sort of a pyo CSA), I
had baskets ready for kids to use to pull weeds for a penny each while Mom
picked produce.  I also paid 2c for every tomato horn worm, cabbage looper,
or whatever insect du jour was.    Now these were kids I knew would not be
destructive...some even had gardens at home.  Many were homeschooled like my
own kids, so the opportunity to educate was worth the small risk of a wrong
plant being pulled.  I don't know how this would work with the general

I think pyo is what you make it.  It takes educating the public (what part
of farming doesn't) and effort on our part to understand "retail attitude"
vs farming.  I think the two can coexist, peacefully.

Liz Pike
Laughingbrook Farm
Westfield NC

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