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August 13, 2023 at 5:45 pm #86799Carlos
My family bought an apple/pear/cherry/plum tree orchard. We have 300 established fruit trees. Apple season is coming up and we’d like to sell our apples. We’d prefer to hire some people to pick the apples and then sell them in bulk to stores. How do we go about doing this? Do we just call grocery stores and ask?
We’re also thinking about doing a Upick, anyone else have recommendations for doing this?August 13, 2023 at 5:47 pm #86800Sabrina
I’d assume a UPICK you make more money.August 13, 2023 at 5:48 pm #86801Peter
You can sell the produce grown on your farm/property at a farm stand that is located on the same property without needing any kind of permit. As mentioned above liability insurance would be ideal though not required. Going direct to consumer will yield you the most bang for buck. The other option is to go direct to resturants.
Unsure of where you are located but search niche resturants who already get local produce, schedule some time to talk with the chef and bring some smaples if you have them or invite them to your orchard. You can also search your area for coops or food hubs which would be my third choice as you will now get in to wholesale prices where it can get to be not worth your time to pick, hire others to pick and then require insurance.
The other option is to have a U-pick option for people to come to the farm and pick there own apples/fruits. This option requires liabilty insurance for sure as people will be on site and may require a restroom as well as other items to harvest. You will also have more waste but less work and the timing of this will always be the most busiest on the weekends and require someone to be there.
The lat option is value added goods but requires the most expensive permitting and regulations. A commercial kitchen would be required and that permit is expensive but you could also look at renting a commercial kitchen. Packaging and labeling you would need to look into regulations. Organic certification takes awhile and getting into a farmers market takes a while and should be considered as a long term approach.
One last option is a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) option and if you only have fruit look for other farms that you could add value to – they sell produce, someone else sells bread and you put it all together for their local CSA share box that goes out every week. You will also need to look at storage for picking fruit as picking it all at once with nowhere to go will most likely result in spoilage as well as possible rodent issues depending on where you are located. All that to say – it can be easy or it can be really hard. If you plan on doing this for awhile – develop relationships with outlets/chefs.
Always under promise and over deliver. Keep good contact with those you have supplied before – no one wants to hear “I have hundreds of pounds of apples – can you use them now!”. Let outlets know what you will have coming up and amounts – this will be very difficult and is why you want multiple outlets – regular customers and places you can offload bulk.August 13, 2023 at 5:50 pm #86803Annie
You should also thoroughly examine the produce. We have a very productive apple tree that is dropping apples. It wasn’t pest treated, so every apple is wormy and unsellable. I’ve gone through hundreds of apples to come across a few that “looked okay.”
I assume that the previous owner probably wasn’t caring a lot about tree maintenance during the last year of life, so you might end up with a similar problem. Reach out to your state extension service to find out the safest pest control management and the timing of when it should be implemented.