Visiting a pick your own farm is a family activity that will work for everyone no matter what age or stage your family is at. For urbanites, it is way to experience the area around the city in a whole new way. It gets everyone outside and kids of all ages love being able see how their food is grown. You also get to purchase produce at a great price and know that it is the freshest possible stuff because you picked it yourself!
Every season brings its own pick your own adventure on the farms around Sydney. No matter whether you are after winter citrus or summer stone fruit there are plenty of opportunities to visit working farms and taste fruit picked straight from the tree (or vine or bush!) It is a great thing to do with kids to help them understand the connection between food and farming.
What you need to know when visiting a pick your own farm
Here are my top tips for making a visit with your kids to a pick your own farm fun, rewarding, educational and delicious:
- Wear a hat and Sunscreen – because grumpy, sunburnt kids are no fun at all
- Wear closed-toed shoes – because snake bites are also not fun.
- Research – not every farm allows pick your own so don’t just rock up and expect to be let loose. Organisations like Harvest Trails and Markets have lists of pick your own farms in specific areas. Most pick your own farms will have Facebook pages or websites where they publish information about opening hours.
- Contact the farm you want to visit – whether you give them a call or lookup their social media accounts, check that they are going to be open on the day that you want to go and that they have fruit to pick. Some farms have special picking days and others are open all weekend, but once all the fruit has gone from the trees there is nothing more to pick until next season.
- Listen to the farmer’s advice – they know where the best, ripest, yummiest fruit is and if you pick where you are told you will have the best experience and get the best value for your money.
- Follow instructions – For you this is a fun day out, but for the producer this is their livelihood. You may think it’s idyllic to disappear to a quiet section of the orchard but you may inadvertently be destroying plants or produce by doing this (which to the farmer equals income).
- Encourage your kids to be respectful of the property – this is someone elses workplace and home after all.
- You have to pay for what you pick so bring enough cash to cover your purchases – not all farms have EFTPOS facilities. None of them have ATMs.
- Ask questions – there are many variables that a producer experiences that may affect their produce. Not all growers are extroverts who are immediately forthcoming, but if you listen with a sympathetic ear you’ll learn about the challenges and triumphs of bringing food to your table.
- Have a plan for your produce – don’t let good food go to waste. Have a plan for turning the fruit that you are not going to eat fresh into preserves, pies, ice creams and whatever else you can dream up. Get the kids involved in looking up recipes and imagining food combinations.
- Above all enjoy your day!