U-Pick Farms

I once asked a 3rd grader where peaches came from and he responded, "A can." Having grown up in a time and place where everyone knew a farmer, I was a little surprised by the answer. This is why I'm glad to see a resurgence of you-pick farms popping up close to urban areas. Now there are new opportunities for people, especially kids, to harvest what they eat.

A you-pick, or u-pick if you are extra hip, farm is just what it sounds like. Small farms where you can pick and take home produce. Peaches, apples, berries, pumpkins and corn are a few popular crops.

Some farms specialize in one or two items such as peaches or blueberries, while others offer multiple crops over the course of the growing season. Here is a list of common fruits and vegetables in a rough order of when they would be available for picking.

Spring - asparagus, strawberries

Summers - peaches, blueberries, blackberries, tomatoes, raspberries

Fall - pumpkins, figs, apples, grapes

If you are a newbie to you-pick farms here are some helpful tips.*

  • Call ahead! Ask about hours, what's in season and how much they charge. Also ask if there is a minimum picking quantity and if children are welcome.
  • Dress the part. Wear comfortable shoes and clothes that you won't mind getting dirty. Remember to bring sunscreen too.
  • Look for a check in/check out and talk with the farmers or farm hands. They can give you tips about how to select the best produce and where to start.
  • Be a courteous guest. Remember that you are visiting a working farm. Walk in the spaces provided. Stay away from equipment and tools.
  • Bring snacks and beverages. You'll work up an appetite and a thirst picking fruits and veggies. It's good to have something on hand to wet your whistle and fill your tummy.
  • Don't assume it's organic. Ask about the farm's use of chemical controls and fertilizers.
  • You'll need something to hold your harvest. Bring bags. Some operations may have them on site but to be safe bring your own.

In my home state of Arkansas there are scads of you-pick farms offering everything from blueberries to pumpkins. Here are two that I have visited and recommend.

High Orchard

Just outside of Cabot, Arkansas
1000 E. Justice Rd
Phone: 501-988-4720
Strawberries late April through early June
Peaches starting in June
Open 7 a.m. to noon

They have a second location for strawberries called The Cabot Patch located at 500 Mount Caramel Road. The Cabot Patch is open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Hidden Valley Farm

Little Rock, Arkansas
719 Ferncliff
Phone: 501-821-2929 or 501-416-4371
Email: farmerdonferdale@yahoo.com
Raspberries June through August
Blueberries and blackberries mid-June through July
Pumpkins in fall
Monday to Sunday, from 7am to 8pm

Hidden Valley Farm uses natural growing methods but they are not certified organic.

A few other farms in Arkansas that I have not visited, but are worth checking out.

Mountain Home Berry Farm

Mountain Home, Arkansas
693 County Road 57
www.mountainhomeberryfarm.com
Phone: 870-425-7028
mjcatlin@mtnhome.com
Asparagus, radishes, spinach and lettuce April through mid-May
Raspberries May through June and then again mid-September through October
Blueberries and blackberries mid-June through July
Monday through Saturday 7 am to 12 noon

They have a Fall Festival Starting the last weekend in September through the first weekend in November. You can pick pumpkins and raspberries, go on a hayride and send the kids to play on the haystack.

Collins Round Mountain Orchard

Conway, Arkansas
159 Mill Pond Road
www.collinsorchards.com
Phone: (501) 327-0450
Peaches and nectarines June through August
Blackberries and plums mid-June through July
Apples September through October
Monday through Saturday 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Collins Round Mountain Orchard also offers watermelon, muscadines and popular warm season veggies such as tomatoes, cucumbers and corn. Arrangements can be made for those with disabilities.

Good to Know

The website PickYourOwn.org is the source for the you-pick tips listed in this article. The site covers just about anything you could possibly want to know about you-pick farms including harvesting info and a list of farms for each state.

PickYourOwn.org State List

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