Quick Tips for a Successful U-Pick

During the years I ran my family’s blueberry farm, the weeks we ran a u-pick made for some of my fondest memories. But as any grower can tell you, u-picks aren’t all fun and games. They can be tricky to pull off successfully. In the grand scheme of things, our u-pick operations only accounted for 2-3% of our revenue, but I never considered them unsuccessful. Here are some of the tactics I think helped us to be successful.

  • Website: We developed a website dedicated solely to the u-pick where we announced our hours of operations and collected email addresses of people interested in the events. Our shifting hours were a result of navigating around our commercial harvesting operation. The website did a wonderful job keeping lines of communication open with the public while also sharing the story of our farm and some Florida blueberry grower history.

  • U-Picker e-newsletter: We were able to grow our list upwards of 2500 email addresses over time, which made getting the word out to folks really effective.

  • Pre-sold pre-packaged blueberries: During the pandemic, we learned that we could sell pre-packaged blueberries called “we-pick” through our Shopify channel. We were able to define exactly how many 5-pound boxes we had in stock and the website kept a running count of what inventory we had left for our customers. We defined a pick-up time to coincide with our u-pick opening times. 

  • Social media: I recommend having a presence across all the major social media platforms to share info about your farm. Here's the thing, though, if new content is not going to be posted after the season closes, put a post to that effect. Thank everyone who visited the farm during the season and ask folks to be on the lookout for new information about upcoming events next February (during preharvest). 

  • Pricing: Don’t underprice your fruit. The rule of thumb for us was 25% less than the going rate at the grocery store. We found that most u-pickers participated for the experience. While price was a factor, it wasn’t the most important one. We had very few folks  complain about the price of the fruit. 

  • Hours of operation: If you make your u-pick window 10 hours in a given day, count how many u-pickers you get. Now shorten those hours to only six hours the next time you're open. We found that about the same number of people would come to the shortened hours of operation as long as the hours were well publicized. 

  • Tours: Don’t forget that you can cash in on farm tours as well, and use those to your advantage to personalize the experience for visitors.  

  • Google Business Profile. Make sure to set up your Google Business profile. Your listing is an easy way to maintain an online presence even if you don't have a website. You can visit your Business Profile anytime to edit your information or see how many people have seen and clicked on your listing. It provides a place for people to find a map to your farm, see your hours operation during season and closed hours during the offseason and leave reviews for your farm and more. Creating a Business Profile is free.

I’d love to know what other successful tactics you’ve had at your own u-pick.

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