Top tips for a successful U-pick farm event

U-pick (or ‘pick-your-own’) farms came about as a means for farmers to cut down on costs. But today, pumpkin, fruit, veggie, and flower picking have all proven popular as fun days out in their own right. A great way for families to get out in nature, they help customers connect with their food and – perhaps most importantly – enjoy some seriously lucrative Insta-opps.

Whether you’re looking to start your own you-pick berry farm, or to turn your existing pumpkin patch into a U-pick hotspot, here are our top tips for running a successful pick-your-own event:

Set out some clear and friendly U-pick house rules

Keep things in order by setting out a few house rules and having them on display around your picking patch. A few gentle reminders may just stop the fast-fingered from munching through your berries – and profits. 

Offer a picnic experience

Let families make a day of it by providing them with a place to picnic. Or, even better, include a picnic lunch within the price of their ticket – think: farm-to-fork ingredients, homemade cakes, and a glass of prosecco for those who are feeling fancy.

Promote your pick-your-own farm’s photo opportunities 

Today, U-pick events are as much about the photo opps as they are the farm fayre. If your tulip field is technicolor fantasy, or your pumpkin patch is an orange Autumn dream, make sure people know about it by posting plenty of photos online.

Make sure you have the right insurance

Any event where you’re inviting the public onto your business property opens you up to certain legal risks. If someone slips on a particularly muddy patch and gets injured, for example, they could try to sue you. Make sure you’ve covered all bases by getting the right event insurance

Use a time-slot or day-ticket system for entry

Even though there’s something decidedly laissez-faire about letting customers pick their fruit (or berries, or veggies) – organization is key for a smooth U-pick event. First-off, you’ll need to make sure your patch doesn’t get overpicked by a certain time of day. And you’ll also want to make sure it doesn’t get overcrowded. People are coming for a relaxing day out, which may not come into fruition if your farm ends up feeling like Disneyland on a holiday.

To avoid this at all costs – get yourself set up with some reliable event registration software.

Have enough staff available to supervise and help customers

Not all participants will be picking-experts (in fact, most won’t), so make sure you have some pros on-hand who can help them get the most out of their day. 

Provide clean, accessible, and family-friendly facilities 

…or risk every U-pick farmer's worst nightmare – peeing on the patch! (Definitely one for your house rules, too). 

Joking aside, if people are coming for a day out, they’ll expect there to be facilities, especially if they have kids. 

If this isn’t possible at your patch or farm or patch, make sure to communicate this clearly on all comms beforehand – and try to keep your picking sessions short. 

Offer U-pick package tickets

These could include a whole host of goods and experiential elements. One ticket could get you, for example, a punnet of apples, a picnic lunch, and a tour of your farm. 

Likewise, pick-and-cut your own Christmas tree events could be jazzed up with sleigh rides, mulled wine and festive music. 

For veggie-picking, why not put on a quick cooking class to show customers how to get the most out of their produce?

If customers want the freedom to pick more than is permitted in their ticket price, simply set a price for any extra produce.

Remember, getting people to pick their own goods is a little different to selling goods you’ve harvested and packaged yourself. The fact your own labor costs are cut down should be reflected in the price of your produce.

Set a pick-limit per person or family

To help keep things fair and your farm in good condition, it helps to set out a limit to the amount of produce each customer or group can pick. 

Whether you’re a seasoned farmer or are starting up a brand new business, we’re sure these top tips will have your running successful U-pick events in no time. Good luck!