With apple and pumpkin seasons upon us, it's the classic time to pick your own produce.
Pick-your-own farms, of course, operate year round. Some offer berry picking in the spring or peach picking in summer in addition to apples and pumpkins in the fall. But there's no more popular time to enjoy the fresh air and stroll through orchards or farm fields than fall, when apples sweeten on the branch, and pumpkins fatten on the vine. You can often find other interesting fruits from the fall harvest, like gourds, cider and root vegetables.
By going to the farm, you are also helping to keep farmers in business. You may pay a little more or a little less for a basket of apples or a pumpkin for carving, but you can be sure that the farmer is keeping more of the profits. If you buy at a store or even a farmers' market, the farmer's profits are squeezed out in extra transportation, distribution and labor costs. When farmers sell direct to customers, they make more money, which maintains the rural farm landscape that we all enjoy on those crisp, fall days as we take in the fall foliage and bite into a fresh apple.
Besides the scenery, farms generally require fewer government services than they pay in taxes, whereas suburban houses that could replace unprofitable farms are a net tax drain. Bottom line: Healthy local farms are good for local taxpayers' bottom line.
To find pick-your-own farms near you, use the Get Local Info widget on The Daily Green's homepage, powered by LocalHarvest.org, or consult with local tourism agencies, which often promote the availability of local pick-your-own farms.
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