Also known as “U-Pick” throughout America, “pick your own” farms provide customers with the opportunity to pick their own produce at a savings to both the customer and the farmer, who would normally have to pay for the labor involved. At the same time, this business can offer visitors an education in agriculture, including how crops are grown and which crops thrive best in a given climate. In addition to pick your own, many farmers sell their produce right on the farm, either through simple stands or through larger-scale country markets, to entice visitors with the concept of one-stop produce shopping in a simpler setting.
Baugher’s Orchard and Farm is a 100-year-old, family-operated farm located in Westminster, Md., that offers “pick your own” from June through October. With two market locations—one on and one off the farm—as well as a bakery and small restaurant, Baugher’s has a lot to offer.
“We’re basically a fifth-generation family business that started out with Mrs. Baugher baking pies out of her basement and selling them door-to-door on a little cart,” explains Cheryl Vural, Market Manager at Baugher’s.
“Those pies are still made in our bakery located right here on the farm, which is run by her granddaughter.”
Vural adds that when starting up an agricultural business, getting the entire family involved can certainly be beneficial. However, as any marketing textbook will tell you, it helps to find a special niche and expand on it.
“Find something unique that no one else is doing,” she says. “There are a lot of farms that do pick your own, but there aren’t any in this county, for example. So we have a large customer base. Likewise, there’s some produce we grow that others don’t. People come from three and four states away just for our sour cherries because no one else offers them.” Once you’ve identified your niche, make sure you promote it in all of your marketing materials, whether it’s newspaper ads, billboards or just a roadside sign.