We know picking is hard work, but just like from-scratch pie dough and slow-smoked barbecue, the things that take some effort are also the most satisfying. The South boasts more U-Pick farms than Junior Leagues, so this summer try your hand at everything from blueberries and bell peppers to cantaloupes and cucumbers.
Davey Dempsey, a fourth-generation farmer, has been hosting the public for nearly 40 years at Dempsey U-Pick Farm in St. Helena Island, South Carolina (dempseyfarmsupick.com). Here are his tips for picking like a pro:
Don’t wear your Sunday best. Unless you want to christen your finery with dirt and fruit juice. Do wear a hat and sunscreen.
Call ahead. The farmer will tell you the conditions of the field and fruit. Wet produce is prone to bruising and bursting; give the fields a day or two to dry after heavy rain.
Be the early bird. Beat the heat and bring home the cream of the day’s crop.
Come hungry. Nothing beats gobbling up juicy, sun-warmed peaches, one right after the other.