To the Orchard! 

Tips and resources for DIY fruit pickers.

Containment: Most farms provide buckets for picking, but some don't. So always bring your own, just in case.
Pricing: Costs vary from farm to farm, and tend to get cheaper as the season advances. Most growers charge per pound of picked fruit, others by the bucket. Overall this season, a pound of fruit will cost significantly less than $2.50.
Timing: Needless to say, U-pick is highly seasonal, and fruit ripens on a variable schedule. Always call ahead to find out what's ready.
Green factor: No Harvest Time members are certified organic — many small farmers prefer to avoid the cost and paperwork involved — but several are essentially organic, avoiding chemical fertilizers and even common pesticides like Roundup. Call to inquire about a particular farm's practices, but remember: If an orchard has a healthy undergrowth of weeds, it's a safe bet it hasn't been sprayed.
Luncha-muncha: Some U-pick farms have picnic sites. Pack a lunch and save room for plenty of tree-ripened fruit for dessert.

Farms mentioned:
Gliedt Family Farm 3520 Orwood Rd., Brentwood. 925-516-8717
Pease Ranch Marsh Creek Rd., Brentwood. 925-634-4646
Peter Wolfe Ranch 700 Creek Rd., Brentwood. 925-634-1308, PeterWolfe.com
Web resources: Harvest4You.com, PickYourOwn.org, BrentwoodAgLandTrust.org

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