How to be a Good Guest on the Farm
Being on a farm is fun! Follow these guidelines to be sure you’re being a good farm guest:
- Come prepared. While checking out the farm’s website, find out whether you need to bring your own picking containers. If the farmer has to take time to hunt around for something for you to use, then has to send those containers home with you, the value of time and containers is lost.
- Don’t waste food. Berries do not ripen at all after picking, so pick only berries that are fully plump. When you pick unripe berries, you’re wasting your time and money. Additionally, you deprive the farmer of income he could have had from those berries in days to come, and the customers who come after you who could have picked them when ripe. Most farmers don’t have any problem with little ones who end up eating more than they pick; they love to see little children enjoy food at its freshest, right from the spot where it’s grown. It’s wastefulness that’s the problem.
When unruly guests shake the branches of berry bushes and orchard trees, causing both ripe and unripe fruit to fall to the ground, that fruit becomes unusable. “Drops” have to be discarded, as the wild animals that roam farms could subject fallen fruits to e-coli bacteria and other harmful organisms. Nobody is helping the farmer do his work by shaking fruits to the ground.
- Don’t bring your animals to the farm. Not all farms have animals, and not all farms with animals welcome other animals. Unless you have the direct permission from the farmer, leave your pets at home. Pets can spread diseases, frighten farm animals, and worse, represent an insurance liability to the farm. Other customers may be afraid of your animal, too.
If the farm you visit does have animals there for your enjoyment, please don’t scream at or chase or otherwise frighten the animals. Some animals can react suddenly and, without meaning harm, cause someone injury.
If you are allowed to feed the farm animals, please keep your offerings to the food that is provided by the farmer. Some animals will in fact eat things that are not food. You may not see the results of that, but what seemed funny at the moment might end up in an expensive vet bill for the farmer and trauma for the animal that trusted you.
- Finally, be kind to yourself, too: before leaving home, be appropriately decked out for your farm visit. That may include hats, sun screen, bug spray and shoes that can get dirty. Don’t forget water, snacks and other comforts a farmer may not be able to provide. Pack a cooler for your fresh picked produce! Field heat is the number one contributor to loss of quality in fresh produce of any kind. The quicker you get your fresh picked treasure cooled down from the field, the more valuable it will be to you in terms of flavor, color, texture, and nutrition. Farmers are proud of what they grow and really want you to get the most out of the fresh foods you take home. They want you to be glad you came, and for you to be a repeat customer—especially if you follow good guest guidelines.