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Starting a Pick Your Own Berry Farm
Individuals who own a few acres of land may consider starting a small business, such as running a pick your own berry farm. The start up costs are minimal, but it is a labor intensive type of business. While there is certain equipment that can be purchased to make the upkeep easier, purchasing the equipment can put a large dent in the initial profits of the business.
Some of the basic business requirements of a pick your own berry farm include:
- Choosing the type of berry or berries that grow best in your soil and can be harvested yearly. Favorites include strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries.
- Labor – to plant the crops, check for pests, pruning, weeding and harvesting for customers who simply want to buy the berries without picking them
- Insurance – liability insurance to cover any accidents associated with the public accessing your property
- Tractor and associated equipment – while you may be able to rent equipment in some areas, in others you may need to purchase them. This may require a loan or investment from a venture capitalist.
- Packaging – some individuals will expect you to provide baskets for the berries they pick, while some people will provide their own.
- Advertising – in order to attract customers, advertising is necessary in local papers, radio stations and signage on and near your farm.
- Time – you, or someone you hire, will have to be available during the season to collect money and answer questions from customers.
Pick Your Own Berry Farm History
Interest in these pick your own berry farms began in the 1980s though there was a down turn for a while in the 1990s. This decade brings more interest in pick your own berry farms as more people decide they are tired of over processed, prepackaged foods with too many pesticides and preservatives. Consumers are looking for fresh foods and pick your own farms that grow berries and vegetables are seeing the profits because of this.
One of the biggest variables for people running pick your berry farms is the weather. This not only affects the production of the berries but the sales as well. Customers are not going to come to the fields during a rain. This is particularly an issue on the weekends when a large portion of the sales occur. Another big sales time is when your customers are on their way home from work. This is why you need to have very flexible hours. One suggestion is to have a phone number that is totally committed to the business. Put an answering machine on it that will tell your potential customers what your hours are and the costs of the berries. Suggest that they bring their own containers, but have some available at a very low price so that the customer who decides to come picking because your farm caught their eye can enjoy the produce too.
Appeal to Your Customers
Try to make the picking experience as pleasant for your customers as possible. It is okay to sell cold drinks so that after picking they can quench their thirst. Make sure your signs are clear on picking rules and prices. You do not want someone to pick berries and then decide they will not buy them because they did not understand the costs. Most berry farms with pick your own operations also pick for potential customers. The person who drives into your lot after a long hard day at the office may crave berries, but not want to get into the field to get them. So, it is always good have some already picked berries available to sell.
Small Business and Agriculture Resources
- Growing and Harvesting Mulberries
A list of mulberry species, tips on growing mulberries and how to tell when the fruit is ripe by species. Includes advice on harvesting the fruit of the mulberry tree.
- How to Start a Pick-Your-Own Farm Operation
How to add your U-pick, PYO farm to PickYourOwn.org to be listed online.
- Start a Pick Your Own Blueberry Farm & Fruit Market with DiMeo Fruit Farms & Berry Plant Nur
Locally grown blueberries and other fresh organic fruits is the trend across the country! Consider selling fresh organic blueberries direct from a roadside f...
- Pick Your Own Organization
Listing of pick your own farms in United States, Canada, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and other countries.
- The U.S. Small Business Administration | SBA.gov
SBA.gov is the official website for the U.S. Small Business Administration, dedicated to providing support to small businesses across the nation.