STICKY JOB – Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, tomatoes, corn and most vegetables are being picked in most places; strawberries are finishing or done; Peaches are in and early apples came in late July; Cherries were picked in mid June. When we were in High School, shortly after classes let-out for the summer the Musselman’s Orchard in Biglerville, PA would open their cherry picking season to local students age 15 and older. Every morning during the season, three charter busses would be waiting on center square New Oxford for all the students who had signed up for cherry picking. It was an early start each day departing at 5:30 am to begin the long ride up into the Adams County foothills where orchard territory awaited our noisy arrival. The days were long, hot, and sticky with smelly fruit stains everywhere. The task was to learn how to pick with speed filling up as many buckets as possible each day. “Ladder Setter” could be heard yelled out throughout the orchard as smaller students needed someone stronger to help move their ladders into new positions on the trees. We worked hard but had a ton of fun earning the end-of-season paycheck to put toward the cost of the next year’s school clothes and supplies. Each day ended with an early collapse into bed being totally exhausted to get ready for pre-dawn reveille.
SELF-PICK ADVENTURES – The student summer picking program is long gone having since been replaced with more efficient and cost effective methods such as professional pickers, migrant workers, automated machinery, and the popular self-pick strategy. Orchard owners have been operating a variety of “pick your own” programs for patrons to have access for their enjoyment and savings. Pick your own provides a fun experience for family outings during the different harvest seasons. It provides the freshest, healthiest choice and the more you pick the lower the price. What could be better than standing in an orchard in the late summer sunshine, the wind brushing your face as you hold the ripest, juiciest cherry, peach, strawberry or apple in your hands?
BUY FRESH BUY LOCAL – Give these farms a call or check their websites before you go, grab a cooler to stash your pickings, and head out into the fields this summer for some of the best locally grown fruits and produce you can find. Visiting an orchard and picking your own apples, peaches, or berries gives you the confidence that you are getting the freshest produce possible. Bring the kids, teach them about where their food comes from and share the beauty of Virginia’s farmland! This simple pleasure can be enjoyed at many pick-your-own farms nearby. Here are just a few favorites that I have enjoyed over the years. Critzer Family Farm, Afton, Carter Mountain Orchard, Charlottesville, Chiles Peach Orchard, Crozet, Liberty Mills Farm, Orange. Pick Your Own orchards are seasonal, so be sure to call or check their websites for availability of harvest and the operating days and times.
TENDING YOUR VILLAGE – Resembling old-world farming, online business marketing must be cultivated, fertilized, watered, and attentively looked after to gain a good harvest for your business and your customer’s experience. It’s an old-world custom transformed into a new-world attitude. This is village relationship building, still the rock of good business – It’s not about selling, it’s connecting and building relationships – building lasting impressions with patrons. These are the values customers love to believe in.