What is a “pick-your own” farm? How can it benefit your family, the farmer, and the community? Is there any environmental benefit?
Pick-your-own farms are a type of farm where customers harvest their own food. Rather than the farmer harvesting, transporting, and selling the food at a market (or to a grocery chain), pick-your-own farms allow people to choose and harvest their own produce. There are several reasons why this is a beneficial practice.
Your whole family can go on this “green outing.” Taking your children with you will show them where food comes from, how it grows, and what goes into harvesting it. For many American children, the origins of food are a mystery, and children think food comes from the grocery store without knowing how it got there.
A pick-your-own farm is a good way to give your children a hands-on experience with their food. Who knows – it may alleviate some picky eating habits if your children get to participate in the harvesting process!
Another way to connect your children with the food they eat is getting to meet and talk to the farmer. It helps to put a “face” on the food your children eat. Farming is real work – hard work – and speaking to the farmer about how early he or she gets up, what has to be done each season, etc. can make an impact on your kids.
How is this a “green” venture? You have probably heard that buying local food is better for the environment because the food does not have to be transported via fossil-fuel burning vehicles to faraway locations. But even local produce gets shipped to the farmer’s market or sold to a store, and has to be transported some distance. Pick-your-own farms eliminate the need to drive large trucks back and forth to sell produce. If you can, when you go to a pick-your-own farm, car pool to minimize the fuel you use to get there.
Also, farmers use large machinery and mechanical pickers to harvest a lot of their produce, so having people pick their own saves fuel and wear and tear on farm machinery.
Going to a farm to pick fruits and vegetables fosters a sense of community. Your family may be really surprised to find out how close by the farm is, and they didn’t even know it was there. Visiting such a farm gives your children a better understanding of interdependence and how farmers, consumers, and the earth are all connected.
The pick-your-own farm is a win-win. The farmer gets to interact with his or her customers and is saved the work of harvesting and transporting, and the customers get to do something positive for the environment and their families.