Home Gardening How to Start a Pick-Your-Own Farm (U-Pick)

How to Start a Pick-Your-Own Farm (U-Pick) – GIY Plants

How to start a pick-your-own farm. U-pick sign on farm in front of old barn.

Are you dreaming of a bustling pick-your-own (PYO) farm? We’re here to guide you through the ins and outs of launching a PYO farm. Get ready to immerse your visitors in a hands-on farming experience.

Conceptualizing Your Pick-Your-Own Farm

Successful PYO farms cater to their target markets. Families on a fun outing or locally-sourced produce enthusiasts are common patrons. Knowing your audience helps design your farm and offerings accordingly.

Accessibility, Facilities, and Experiences

Tractor giving farm tours with trailer of people.

Opening your farm to the public is about more than just picking fruit. Consider ease of access, parking, and restroom facilities. Enhance the visitor experience by offering hayrides or farm tours.

Staffing and Running Your U-Pick Operation

Even though visitors do the picking, staffing remains crucial. Guiding visitors, maintaining the farm, and handling sales points require a well-trained team. Consider your farm’s size when planning labor costs.

Growing the Right Fruit

Growing the right fruit for a u pick farm. Field of pumpkins at a u-pick farm.

Choosing fruits for your U-Pick farm influences your success. Popular choices are strawberries and blueberries. However, researching your local market helps in growing in-demand fruits. Find your niche for a unique farm experience.

Most Popular Pick-Your-Own Farm Crops

Most popular crops for pick your own frams. U-pick raspberry sign on farm.

Farmers considering a PYO operation should reflect on their crop selection. Fruits that are easy to pick, transport, and enjoy are favorites at these farms. Here are some popular choices:

Strawberries: A PYO staple, strawberries are a crowd favorite. Their juicy flavor and easy picking make them a top choice for families.

Blueberries: These antioxidant-rich berries are easy to pick and store, and their season extends over several summer months, ensuring a steady stream of visitors.

Apples: A quintessential fall activity, apple picking attracts many. From cider-making to apple pies, the appeal of apples is wide-ranging.

Raspberries and Blackberries: These delicate fruits are often best picked by careful hands, making them perfect for these farms. Their rich flavor and versatility are definite crowd-pleasers.

Pumpkins: An autumn classic, pumpkins draw families for carving and pie-making traditions. Plus, their hardiness makes them an easy crop.

Cherries: While they require a little more effort to pick, cherries’ sweet taste and short season can attract a large crowd in a small time frame.

Peaches: A ripe, juicy peach is hard to resist. Despite their delicate nature, they are a popular fruit due to their unique flavor.

Farmers can keep customers returning throughout the growing season by diversifying their offerings. Each crop’s picking season and requirements should be considered when planning your farm.

Understanding Financial Aspects

Starting a U-Pick requires significant investment. Your personal and business finances need a thorough review. Getting professional financial advice helps, as most of your business may come from a handful of products.

Marketing Your PYO Farm

Marketing your PYO farm to get customers like this family picking cherries from trees.

Effective marketing is crucial to draw crowds to your farm. Use a mix of online and offline advertising strategies. Highlighting unique experiences and locally-grown produce in your ads can be effective.

Protecting Your Business With Liability Insurance

Liability insurance is essential to safeguard your farm business. Accidents can happen, and you need to be prepared. Having adequate coverage protects your business from potential legal and financial pitfalls.

Pricing Strategy

Determining pricing requires careful consideration. Pricing should cover your costs and allow for a reasonable profit. Research other local farms to ensure your prices are competitive.

Land Requirements

A key factor in planning your farm is land. A larger area allows more variety and quantity. However, small farms can succeed with the right planning and crop choices.

Pros & Cons of Starting a U-Pick Farm


1. Lower Labor Costs: With customers picking, labor costs can be significantly reduced. Harvesting is a labor-intensive task that is outsourced to your customers.

2. Direct-to-Consumer Sales: You’re selling your products directly to the end consumer, allowing for higher profit margins than selling through intermediaries.

3. Marketing Opportunities: These farms are popular for family outings, providing great opportunities for farm-related events. Additionally, they can foster customer loyalty and repeat business.

4. Reduced Waste: PYO reduces waste as customers only pick what they intend to consume, and it is less likely to be damaged than machine harvesting.


1. Liability Insurance: Customers on your property increase the risk of injuries and accidents. Adequate liability insurance, while necessary, can be costly.

2. Inconsistent Revenue: Income can be inconsistent and season-dependent, making financial planning challenging.

3. Customer Management: Dealing with the public can be demanding. You’ll need to guide on how to pick produce without damaging plants.

4. Crop Damage: Customers unfamiliar with harvesting techniques might inadvertently damage your crops or plants, impacting future yields.

5. Weather Dependence: Bad weather can influence customer turnout significantly, leading to unpredictable profits.

Profitability of Pick-Your-Own Farms

Profitability of pick your own farm. Crowd of people picking their own strawberries.

The profitability of these farms hinges on crop choice, operational efficiency, marketing, and customer satisfaction. Popular, high-yield crops like strawberries and blueberries can boost profits.

Efficient use of resources, labor management, and minimizing expenses improve your bottom line. Marketing strategies and a satisfying customer experience are key to attracting and retaining customers.

However, challenges like weather conditions, pest infestations, market fluctuations, and expenses like liability insurance can impact profitability.


Starting a U-Pick farm can be a rewarding journey. Meticulous planning, a deep understanding of your target market, and a well-thought-out financial plan are key. So, why not embark on this exciting venture and share the joy of farming with the public?

Join Us

Sign up to get all the latest gardening tips!