Pick your own

There is nothing fresher than growing your own fruit and vegetables. However, not all of us have a garden. What to do if you want to enjoy fruit and veggies at their best and don't have the time or space for a kitchen garden? Pick your own!

Pick your own fruit and vegetables in season

PYO farms grant us the opportunity to hunt and choose your own fruit or vegetables, so you can pick the best at their very best. You have the chance to pick and collect baskets of lovely fresh food to enjoy higher vitamin content or to fill your freezer at a cheaper price. You can pick your own asparagus or raspberries in spring, peas and tomatoes in summer, and apples or pumpkins in the autumn.

Many farms offer this opportunity usually and put forward a great choice of different crops. Pea season usually begins as the strawberries come to an end. Both pod and sugar snap peas are popular as pick your own as well as already picked in the shop. Peas and broad beans are best eaten when young and tender - they will make great soups when fat. Savvy farmers plant several varieties of strawberries that ripen at different times to ensure a continuous supply during spring and summer.

Even teenagers catch the picking bug and they fill baskets with great efficiency and no cost. Kids make great pickers, too. They enjoy very much whisking strawberries out of the field and into the basket when they are at the peak of ripeness. Get children involved with fresh food in a fun way and you'll find they become more interested in what they eat, more adventurous with the food they are willing to try, and less reluctant to eat healthy vegetables and fruit.

For lots people, pick your own is a family favorite day trip activity and probably fresh berries are the preferred choice. It is not all about the berries, though. It is fun and educational, plus this berry picking is a most delicious way to eat flavorful local fruit while supporting local family farms. Farmers get a higher price for their berries than they would have in the wholesale market and customers get a lower price than they would have at the grocery store.

Farms that offer pick your own tend to be very careful with fertilizers and pesticides. They are aware there is every chance for the occasional berry to end up in the mouth of the pickers before any washing and the produce will not get through the processes common with industrial farming. But, of course, freshly picked produce will need a bit more washing and preparation than what you get at large grocery stores.

Often there will be a farm shop where you can buy the same freshly picked fruit without the sweat and stock on the veggies you did not have time to pick yourself. Visiting the farm shop will complete you gatherings and it is recommended if you don't live particularly close to the farm. You may find other goodies such as local honey.

Flavor, aroma and texture are by far the best advantage when you pick your own. Never mind the time saved in gardening works, the higher vitamin content, or cheaper price. The shortest the time from garden to table, the better the taste for fruit and vegetables. That is why farm shops and pick your own offer the freshest food experience you can get.

There are more than likely a few farm shops or pick your owns within your reach, maybe just on your doorstep. Take a trip out, get back in touch with natural food. Eat fresher, healthier, maybe organic, local foods fresh from the farm.

It is likely children will enjoy very much the experience of picking fruit and preparing fruit cobblers, crisps and pies. Even kids who are not fond of fruit and vegetables may like those veggies they chose and helped to cook.

Strawberries start ripening in June, followed by raspberries, cherries, currants, gooseberries, blueberries, blackberries, tomatoes, peas, beans, sweet corn, elderberries, gourds, Indian corn and pumpkins.

If you are there just for the day out, some farms offer extras such as petting zoos, barns, mazes or tractor ridings.

Some farms will offer pick your own flowers, too, pumpkin carving for Halloween, on addition to pick your won pumpkin, and they will offer Christmas trees directly from the grower.

Detail of gooseberries.
Freshly picke raspberries.