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Richmond U-pick 101 Guide: Farmers don't do dirty diapers

See top-10 u-pick tips and rules:
South Richmond farmer Sonny Sidhu at his family's G S Farm at 11400 No. 4 Road, where some u-pick customers may need to brush up on their u-pick etiquette

City slickers be warned; Farmers don’t do dirty diapers.

U-pick blueberry season has always been a semi-secret gem for local residents over the years, says farmer Sonny Sidhu, of G S Farm on No. 4 Road. However it’s gaining in popularity so much that some remindful public education may be required for those visitors hoping to score the plumpest blues in town.

Sidhu says he and other farms in Richmond are having to keep a keener eye on pickers these days. Theft is a recurring problem (Sidhu just installed a fence along one property line) and so are a minority of pickers who don’t respect rules, including littering. At one point this season, Sidhu, in a shake-your-head moment, had to discard a used diaper found between his rows of blueberry bushes.

“We’re lucky here in Richmond, especially with a good farming base to allow for things like blueberries and strawberries.

“When you come, enjoy your experience, but at the same time respect the farmland itself. It is a business for farmers and it is their livelihood as the majority of earnings from the crops. We put rules in place to maximize yields itself and to provide for every person who comes here to pick,” said Sidhu.

Nearing the end of July and into early August, during the “first pick,” is the best time for picking, said Sidhu. Deals can be seen in late August with the second pick.

“We’ll have done the first pick by the second week of August and then we wait for the second pick to ripen. They won’t be as uniform,” said Sidhu.

Here are 10 general rules for u-pick berries.

  1. Be prepared for the weather. Sonny says: “Have a hat, comfortable clothing and shoes. Bring sunscreen and water.”

  2. Bring a bucket. Sonny says: “You wouldn’t believe how many people forget to bring a bucket. We only have a few spares.”

  3. Follow picking rules. Sonny says: “Each farm has their own system for proper crop management. If assigned, pick only in designated areas.”

  4. Know how to pick. Sonny says: “Blueberries grow in clusters and, when completely ripe, should be picked in bunches (by cupping the clusters in your hands) to avoid dropping berries. Picking one by one generally causes unnecessary shaking of the bush, causing the surrounding berries to fall.”

  5. Respect the land. Sonny says: “A farm field is a natural environment frequently visited by many types of wildlife. Do not leave any garbage or litter in the field.”

  6. Mornings and evenings are best. Sonny says: “It’s peaceful; you can hear the birds singing.”

  7. Don’t leave children unattended. Sonny says: “While it’s good for children to experience and learn about how and where their food comes from, a farm is not a playground.”

  8. Enjoy samples. Sonny says: “There are many varieties of blueberries. We encourage people to enjoy picking and sampling a few within reason.”

  9. No smoking. Sonny says: “The ground is generally dry and there is a potential for fire.”

  10. No stealing. Sonny says: “I had to put up a fence over there so people wouldn't jump the property line. ...I've had people come and fill their backpacks. ...Farmers work very hard year round to take care of their crops.”