If you need a reason to get off the couch, end a reality TV marathon and trade the hum of the air conditioner for summer’s chorus of crickets, here it is: it’s U-Pick season! U-Picks are a one-stop opportunity to get a great deal on killer produce, support a local business and catch some rays while you work. Yes, U-picking is work, but just like from-scratch cornbread and slow-smoked barbeque, things that take some effort are the most satisfying in the end. And, of course, U-picking presents an opportunity for hospitality; share even just a pint of your bounty with your neighbors and you’ll make their day.
We talked to Davey Dempsey, a fourth generation farmer who runs Dempsey U-Pick Farm in St. Helena Island, South Carolina where they’ve been hosting U-pickers for nearly 40 years. Here are a few of his tips for picking like a pro:
1) Don’t wear Sunday’s best unless you want to christen your finery with dirt and fruit juice. Do wear a hat and bring extra sunscreen.
2) Call ahead and talk to the farmer. He’ll tell you the conditions of the field and fruit. Wet produce is prone to bruising and bursting so after a heavy rain, give the fields a day or two to dry.
3) Be the early bird. Not only will you beat the heat, you’ll bring home the cream of that day’s crop.
4) Come hungry. Nothing beats gobbling up a juicy, warm-from-the-sun peach, over and over and over again.
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