Whether you want a bag of collard greens, a mess of okra or a bushel of tomatoes for Grandma's signature sauce, picking your own vegetables is a great way to get closer to your food source -- and save some money, too.
Sophia Gutherz and Marty Miller, Manhattanites who have a place in Mattituck, are regulars at Cooper's Farm, which also is in Mattituck. "We're there at the farm every weekend we're out there," says Miller, 75. "We pick some of everything. And, we bring produce back for the neighbors."
Farm owner Doug Cooper estimates his customers save as much as 50 percent by picking their own vegetables.
Good to know
Most farms have designated U-pick areas for customers to load up on ripe produce during the peak growing season. To avoid disappointment, call the farm before heading out to confirm which vegetables are available.
Many will provide containers for picking, but unless you want to buy them, bring your own shallow cardboard boxes for the drive home.
"I have some regulars who bring their own Bubble Wrap and line the backseat with boxes," says Pam Lewin Saviano, of Lewin Farms in Calverton.
Some area farms that participate in Community Supported Agriculture programs, such as Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett , also allow members to pick their own produce. Check with your local CSA to see if it allows u-pick.
What it costs
Expect to pay $1 or $2 a pound for heavy vegetables such as tomatoes and zucchini -- lighter produce (peppers, squash blossoms, okra, greens) often costs more per pound.
Prices tend to be higher at the beginning of August, dwindling as the harvest progresses. Farms generally are cash and carry. Few will have an ATM.
Where to pick
WHEN | WHERE 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, 6233 North Country Rd., Wading River
CROPS Peas, tomatoes, beans
WHEN | WHERE 8 a.m.-dusk daily, 2200 Breakwater Rd., Mattituck
PRICING By the pound
CROPS Tomatoes, muskmelons, watermelons, Oriental and regular eggplants, hot and sweet peppers, cucumbers, beans, okra, potatoes, onions, Swiss chard, beets, zucchini, zucchini blossoms
F & W SCHMITT FARMS
WHEN | WHERE 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily beginning in mid-September, 26 Pinelawn Rd., MelvilleINFO 631-271-3276
PRICING By the pound
CROPS Eggplant, string beans, tomatoes, peppers
HANK'S FARM STAND
WHEN | WHERE 9:30 a.m.-
5:30 p.m. daily, 324 County Rd. 39, Southampton
hankspumpkintown.comPRICING $3.50 a half pint, $7 a pint
CROPS Raspberries, blackberries
LENNY BRUNO FARMS
PRICING By the bushel
CROPS Eggplants, hot and sweet peppers, plum tomatoes, flat beans
WHEN | WHERE 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Wednesday-Monday (call for availability), 812 Sound Ave.,
PRICING Mostly by the pound; tomatoes also by the bushel
CROPSRound, plum and cherry tomatoes; green, Italian, hot and jalapeño peppers; eggplants, peaches, blackberries
PATTY'S BERRIES & BUNCHES
WHEN | WHERE 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. daily, 410 Sound Ave., Mattituck
PRICING $5 a person to enter field (includes one pint of fruit), $5 each additional pint
CROPSBlueberries, blackberries and raspberries
WHEN | WHERE 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, 3810 Middle Country Rd./ Route 25, Calverton
PRICING Mostly by the pound
CROPS Peaches ($15 per quarter bushel), raspberries, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, nectarines