Monday, July 29, 2013

Cottage Industry: Back Yard Blueberry U-Pick

Blueberries are currently in season in my neck of the woods!  They are one of my favorite fruits to u-pick.  When we lived in our rental place there were two blueberry u-picks in biking distance. This year I was wondering what I was going to do because I really didn't want to drive the 1/2 hour to go pick.  Low and behold, thanks to the sharp eyes of my parents, when they were visiting, a little sign advertising u-pick blueberries went up only a couple of miles away from home.

I went to investigate and was pleasantly surprised to find a little quaint family farm.  I'm guessing they maybe had 5 acres of land and only maybe 1/2 acre to 1 acre was blueberries.  I didn't get to talk to the owners but it seemed a pretty simple operation and an excellent way to make some $$ from your land. Here's their set up:

 Little sign on the corner of the main road. Not even big or fancy. (Sorry it's not the best picture but we had an impatient driver behind us and didn't have much time to snap a picture.)

 Another sign at the corner of their road.  Pretty simple.
Sign with hours and phone number in front of their property.  Again not big or fancy.  Their hours are Monday thru Saturday, 8 to 8.
Next they had a simple place for cars to park, marked with another simple sign.
On their back porch they had their main set up:  A sign with instructions, buckets, scale, money box etc.  Some of the buckets were buckets I've seen at other u-pick operations and others were simple recycled ice cream buckets.

They've done a really excellent job of "cuting up" the property, making it atmospheric and a visual treat.  Red, white and blue are the décor scheme and every where you look there are festive decorative touches.


 They had amenities to make the experience a little more pleasant too: A shady spot to sit and rest and a bathroom!

It was just a hop, skip and a jump to the picking field from parking and we were greeted by a friendly farm cat.

In hindsight the cat may or may not be a good idea.  It was cute and my kept my littles occupied but they were supposed to be picking the fruit, not petting the cat.  The farm would have made another buck or so out of us if Reagan had been picking.

We had a great time.  The bushes were full, the fruit was easy to pick, the price was wonderful,  $1 per pound, and it is so close to home that we can go back and pick any time during the season.  We ended up with five pounds of berries for freezing and using fresh.  There is nothing better then getting great quality local food and supporting a family farm too!
There was nothing overly complicated about this set up and I went away feeling it was something that any of us could duplicate. We have strawberries and blueberries in our vicinity but I have yet to find raspberries, currants or gooseberries in the area so that could easily be something for my homestead, Creek Cottage Homestead, to capitalize on.
If you have a little bit of land, good fruit skills and some creativity this could be a good little side biz. (Of course one would need to check with the local powers-that-be for regulations etc. and I'm sure some form of insurance would be a good idea.)
One last tip for you:  Make sure to bring something to take home your fruit in.  They did have bags available but not every operation will.

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