Even if you are accustomed to making your way around the farm to pick field crops, herbs and flowers,  it never hurts to review the basics. Here are some rules for picking your own that ensure crops keep producing throughout their growing season.

Look Beyond the First Plant in the Row

The most important point to remember when picking field crops is to walk down the aisle, rather than pick off of the first plants you see. Usually the plants at the end of a row are the most abundant and beautiful; that’s because no one picks them! If everyone picks off of the first plants in a row, those plants will no longer produce, and we will have less to pick from.

When we tell you to glean a crop, that means that you can pick over what is left. There won’t be a lot, but if you look around, you can glean a bunch of beans or another handful of berries before that crop is done.

We are trying to improve signage, so that it is easy for you to find things.

When Picking Herbs and Tea, Read the Signs, and Watch Your Children

We have many perennial and annual herbs, which are open to picking throughout the summer. There is a chalkboard at the kiosk in front of the herb garden that gives some hints about cutting the various herbs that are available in any given week. In general, please take only a small amount—enough for you to put into a dish you are making. You can always pick more the following week. For more details about herbs and how to harvest them, see our Herb Notes posts.

Also, we’ll say this again:  children must be supervised. In the Culinary Herb Garden a few weeks ago, a child pulled a couple of the basil plants right out of the ground. We all know that children love to learn at the farm and tactile exploration is important to that process. The Culinary Herb Garden and the Tea Garden are not places for them to do this, however. If your children must be with you in the herb gardens, you must keep them with you and keep a close eye on them. We prefer that you allow them to play in the Children’s Garden. The Children’s Garden has many plants that can be touched and smelled, and it is right next to the herb and tea gardens.

Remember the Flowers!

Everyone loves the flowers at the farm, and I encourage you to pick the total amount allowed for the given week. Some people think they don’t have time to pick the flowers, but it really only takes a few minutes, and then you have something beautiful to enjoy on your table all week. Also, picking the flowers stimulates their growth and enables them to produce more. When they don’t get picked, the plants eventually stop producing more flowers. Please walk around the entire flower garden and try flowers you haven’t picked before.

Respect the Honor System

The pick your own crops are on the honor system. Part of being a member of Stearns Farm is being an upstanding farm citizen. We manage the crops carefully, and although you may think there is more for you to take on a certain day, there actually isn’t. Please respect the hard work that goes into growing and managing the crops, and take only what you are allowed.

Thank you for abiding by these few, simple rules. It makes all of our lives at the farm more enjoyable.

See you at the farm!