Back in its agricultural heyday, the South Shore area was known as America’s Salad Bowl. Everything grew here, and not just vegetables. While agriculture is not as extensive as it once was in our area, we’re lucky in South Shore to still have plenty of local options, including oodles of ‘U-Pick’ farms where you get to pick your own amazing food.
U-Pick: A special way to shop
Coming from a large suburban area, and never having been exposed to ‘agriculture’ up close and personally, I was surprised to find so many U-Pick opportunities in South Shore when I moved here 14 years ago. To be honest, I had always ‘picked’ my food from a supermarket (I had also only ‘fished’ at the supermarket, too, but that’s another story).
It took only one time, though, one Sunday afternoon U-Pick experience, to convert me. From sweet corn and black-eyed peas to tomatoes, strawberries and blueberries, you can pick just about anything you could want in South Shore – and me and my husband do.
Top 11 Reasons to U-Pick (and one bonus reason)
- U-Pick tastes better. The tomatoes you pick taste like real tomatoes. Yummy.
- Any excuse to be outdoors in Florida is a good one.
- It’s super affordable so you can pick a lot of what you’re picking.
- Now is the time to perfect your salsa recipe. Side-by-side taste tests are a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Have a contest. Get the whole family making up their own recipes.
- You know it’s fresh and hasn’t been sprayed with some hideous-to-spell chemical meant to keep it looking good for way longer than it should.
- It’s a fun family activity. Kids get to play in some dirt; adults get fresh food. Win-win. For the record, it’s a fun activity to do with visitors, too. Something about the thrill of hand-picking fresh strawberries in Florida is the stuff vacation memories are made of.
- Buying local is supporting local. That’s always a good thing.
- You get to meet the people who grew the food. It’s nice putting a face with your dinner.
- You get the adventure of farming without having to actually farm.
- The U-Pick experience changes with the seasons. Winter strawberries make way for spring blueberries and summer tomatoes and so on….It’s your very own farm-to-your-table dining experience.
- The top reason for U-Picking? You’re picking your own food! It’s where the saying, ‘Fruits of your labor’ comes from (Ok, not really, but it’s still cool).
- Bonus reason. While U-Pick farms are open most days of the week my husband and I usually hit them over a weekend. Then during the week, as I am chopping the fresh produce I picked with my own hands, I get to relive a bit of last weekend and look forward to the next.
There are lots of great U-Pick farms throughout South Shore. Last Sunday we ventured to Berry Bay Farms in Wimauma (sweet corn and canteloupe) and U-Pick on 19th Street (next to Amazon) in Ruskin (tomatoes and onions).