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U-Pick Operations

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A U-Pick operation is a direct marketing channel where customers visit the farm to harvest fruits, vegetables, flowers, or trees on their own.

Like any marketing channel, a U-Pick has advantages and disadvantages. On one hand, it offers customers fun, memorable experiences that often become seasonal outdoor family traditions. For farmers who spend the majority of their time on their property, bringing in customers can be a nice way to meet neighbors and community and can be an additional sales channel that eases marketing risk.

On the other hand, bringing visitors to your fields and orchards opens you up to many risks.

This guide, published by UC SAREP in 2018, examines the U-Pick model, helps you determine whether it’s suitable for your farm and gives examples and suggestions for planning and building your U-Pick operation.

Download Guide (pdf): Planning a U-Pick Operation on Your California Farm

Download budget template (Excel): U-Pick Operation Partial Budget template

In this Guide:

  • Advantages and disadvantages of U-Pick
  • Assessing Yourself as a U-Pick Farmer
  • Important Elements of a U-Pick Operation
    • Crop Diversity and Packaging
    • Location and Layout
    • Quality
    • Communications and Promotions
  • Planning and Building your U-Pick Operation
    • Permitting and regulatory compliance
    • Financial planning and budgeting
    • Labor planning
    • Food safety & Risk management
    • Pricing
    • Complementary products, attractions
    • Other considerations
  • Evaluating and Adapting
  • Budget Template
  • Resources

Other resources: