**UPDATE** This article was picked as an editor’s choice in the 210th Carnival of Personal Finance!
“And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.” Luke 19:17
There are many small ways to reduce costs in our every day lives, so to help do just that each week I post a money saving “Tip of the Week”.
This weeks tip involves…enjoying the several benefits of Pick-Your-Own Fruit Season!
If you’re not growing your own berries, which very few people are, you stand to save a bundle by visiting your local U-Pick fruit farms. In case you are not familiar, u-pick farms provide you an opportunity to pick their fruit at prices highly discounted from normal grocery produce prices. Whether you call them pick-your-own, pyo, or u-pick, these farms provide an plethora of savings, fun, & adventure for the entire family.
Cost savings of picking your own
Here is a good example of the savings you stand to realize. A fellow church member just called to tell me how she just picked 33 pounds of fresh organic strawberries. Here is her price comparison:
- Pick Your Own organic strawberries at local farm – $1.00/pound
- Pre-picked organic strawberries at local farm – $3.00/pound
- Grocery store organic strawberries – $4.50/pound
That’s over 75% savings folks!
OTHER GREAT BENEFITS
Aside from price, here are some additional benefits of visiting your local “pick your own” farm today:
- Fun Family Adventure – You know how I love a good (Debt Free) Adventure! Taking the family out for a ‘pick their own fruit’ field trip is an excellent and frugal way to bring the family together for a wholesome & fun time. A lot of times the farms will offer treats and rides for the kids. I still remember going on fun trips to our local strawberry farm when I was a kid and plan to do the same with my kids.
- Supporting Local Economy – Instead of lining the pockets of multi-billion dollar WalMart tycoons your money is going toward putting food on the table for one of your fellow community members. Supporting local economy also increases the likelihood that neighborhood farms will be around for your children’s children to enjoy!
- Knowledge of the Source – By driving down the street and picking fruit yourself you are in full control of your purchase. When you buy from a grocery store you have no control over the source of the product. Some grocers may purchase from local sources; if so, great… but by picking your own you are fully aware of the where the produce was grown and what practices were used to grow it. If you want organic fruit, go to an organic farm. If you want only big berries, pick only the big berries. You also cut down on commercial shipping by picking your own… which is good for the environment!
- Preserve the Excess – By picking your own you will be able to enjoy a bounty of fresh fruit for a long time to come. Set aside some of the fruit for fresh eating and preserve the rest. Here are the two most common ways to preserve berries:
- Freeze them – This is my favorite because it allows you to pull them out at anytime and enjoy the berries all year around.
- Make jam – You can also make jelly, jam, or preserves for use as a delicious fruit spread.
- It is Healthy – Not only is the fresh picked organic fruit good for you, but getting outside to pick them is also great exercise and offers a return to simpler times. Getting your hands dirty and interacting with your food in its natural environment is a healthy experience for all involved. It reminds you of the power of freshly grown food and can be a caveat to big changes in your diet! Fresh organic fruit is packed with health benefits and provides a healthy snack alternative to chips, cookies, and crackers (although you can also make healthy & delicious cookies).
WHERE ARE THE FARMS?
I’m glad you asked. Rather than wax poetic about all the different possible places for you to pick fresh produce, and tell you what to do with it once you get it… I’ll leave you in the trusting hands of the experts at PickYourOwn.org. Their website will not only provide you with a list of local pick-your-own farms in your area, but they will also give you picking tips, teach you how to preserve your bounty, and point you to the best source for any equipment you may need.
It will also help to know the following normal harvest times for common fruits & veggies (yes… you can also pick-your-own vegetables):
- Strawberries = June
- Blueberries & Raspberries = July-Sept
- Vegetables = June-Oct
- Flowers = May-Oct
- Apples = Aug-Nov
- Peaches = July-Sept
- Pumpkins = Sept-Oct
So What Are You Waiting For?
Pack the spouse & kids into the family vehicle & head down to your local pick-your-own farm today. It will be an experience all of you will remember for a long time to come, not to mention all the money you’ll save & fresh fruit products you will enjoy far into the future!
Click here to see all our past DFA Tips of the Week.
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