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By Katie Thear

The ‘pick your own’ enterprise is popular with growers and public alike.

The strawberry crop is the most common, with family parties often going to pick at weekends, then taking their baskets to be weighed at the check-out point of the farm shop.

The experience of many growers is that it is better to provide standard containers and to sell by weight rather than volume. This is also clearer from the point of view of the customer.

There are customers who prefer not to pick their own so it is important to have containers that are full and ready for sale in the shop.

Again, a car park with adequate turning space is required, as well as road signs warning that the site is just ahead.

Signs on the site itself should make it clear where the public walkways are, and these may need to be roped off so that the pickers are in no doubt as to the direction to follow.

Public liability insurance is essential, but it is also important to make clear to parents that they are responsible for their children while on site.

Dogs should not be allowed in at all and a clear sign in the car park should indicate that they are to be left in the cars. In hot weather, some visitors may need to be reminded that the car windows should be left open or the animals will suffer heatstroke.

Crops suitable for picking by the public are generally fruit such as strawberries, raspberries and plums, and vegetables such as runner beans, dwarf or French beans and sweet corn.

Don't forget when calculating prices that some of your customers will eat more than the amount they hand in to be weighed as they pick! You may feel 'cheated' but it really isn't worth arguing with customers. Grin and bare it!


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