A little girl holding a big pumpkin in a pumpkin patch.

Image: Shutterstock

One of the best parts about autumn’s arrival is pumpkin picking, followed by cut-your-own-Christmas-tree farms, and then berry and produce-plucking in the spring. Picking your own stuff is a great way to be outside and to interact with family, and it’s a good way to wear your kids out so they sleep a lot later. But these generally-unsupervised produce patches come with their own set of quiet etiquette that you’d be smart, and kind, to respect. So what do you want to keep in mind when you’re at a U-Pick farm?

You’re at a place where you can just pick any produce you want.

Going to a U-Pick farm isn’t like going to the store: you can actually see the produce as it’s meant to be seen, in its natural habitat. And someone gave up time in their lives to plant those pumpkins and tend to them as they grew. So if you see signs that give you specific instructions about behavior, follow them. If the sign asks you not to litter, don’t litter. If it asks you not to choose a pumpkin from this section, don’t pick one of those pumpkins. Someone has invited you into their farm and their hard work—respect that invitation.

Keep an eye on your little ones.

Children can be cute, but they can also be very destructive. Don’t let them trample plants or pull produce you don’t intend to take with you, and try to keep them under control so they don’t intrude on someone else’s experience. If there are animals about, don’t let your kids spook them—or they may risk being injured or scaring the animals. Generally, just try not to be a nuisance either to other pickers or to the farm itself.

Don’t eat more than you pick.

If you go to a farm, you probably will need to pay for the produce you want to take with you, so don’t go around plucking and eating things you won’t end up paying for. You shouldn’t be creating losses for the farm that’s invited you to meander its grounds!

If you want to find a pick-your-own farm near you (and intend on following the rules!), check out pickyourown.org or farmsnear.me.