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  • Writer's pictureAgritisement UK

How to Profit from PYO?

Updated: Feb 29

Pick-your-own (PYO) farms have become increasingly popular in recent years, as consumers seek out fresh, locally grown produce and the unique experience of harvesting it themselves. This blog explores what PYO farms are, provides a step-by-step guide to starting one, and delves into the profitability of this agritourism venture.


What is PYO?


Pick-your-own, also known as U-pick, refers to the practice of allowing consumers to harvest their own produce directly from the fields or orchards. It offers a hands-on experience, where visitors can connect with nature, engage in outdoor activities, and enjoy the satisfaction of gathering their own fresh fruits, vegetables, or flowers. Popular PYO operations in the UK include pumpkin patches, sunflower fields and berry picking. All of which can be marketed with digital ticketing to increase sales and revenue.



digital marketing for farmers, PYO marketing, u-pick, diversification for farmers, profitability of PYO

The above is taken from the Dunham Pumpkins social media, proudly managed by Agritisement UK who deliver results year on year.


Starting a PYO Farm


  1. Understanding the PYO Market: Before diving into the PYO industry, it's crucial to research and understand the market demand for various pick-your-own crops in your area. Consider factors such as local consumer preferences, seasonal trends, and competition from other PYO farms.

  2. Selecting Suitable Crops: Choose crops that thrive in your climate and soil conditions while aligning with market demand and seasonal availability. Popular PYO crops include strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, apples, pumpkins, and sweetcorn, but don't overlook niche options like herbs, flowers, or Christmas trees. Diversifying your crop selection can attract a broader range of visitors and extend your PYO season. Check out our "Different Types of PYO (U-Pick) Farms and Crops" blog for crop ideas for your PYO operation!

  3. Planning Your PYO Operation: Develop a comprehensive plan for your PYO operation, considering factors such as field layout, crop rotation, signage, parking facilities, and visitor amenities. Designate specific picking areas for each crop, ensuring ease of access and safety for visitors. Invest in quality equipment, such as baskets, containers, and pruning tools, to facilitate a seamless picking experience.

  4. Marketing and Promotion: Create a strong brand identity for your PYO farm and develop a marketing strategy to attract visitors and generate buzz. Utilise online platforms, social media channels, and local advertising to promote your PYO events and engage with your target audience. Highlight the unique features of your farm, such as organic practices, family-friendly activities, or scenic views, to differentiate yourself from competitors.

  5. Providing Exceptional Customer Experiences: Focus on delivering exceptional customer experiences to cultivate loyalty and encourage repeat visits. Train your staff to provide friendly and knowledgeable assistance to visitors, offering guidance on crop selection, harvesting techniques, and recipe ideas. Consider adding value-added services, such as farm tours, educational workshops, or on-site refreshments, to enhance the overall visitor experience.

  6. Embracing Sustainability and Community Engagement: Demonstrate your commitment to sustainability by implementing eco-friendly practices, such as water conservation, integrated pest management, and waste reduction. Engage with the local community through partnerships with schools, community groups, and charities, offering educational programs, volunteer opportunities, or donations to support worthy causes. Building strong relationships with your community can foster goodwill and create a loyal customer base for your PYO farm.

  7. Evaluating and Adapting: Regularly assess the performance of your PYO operation, gathering feedback from visitors, monitoring crop yields, and analysing financial metrics. Identify areas for improvement and opportunities for expansion, adapting your strategies based on market trends and customer preferences. Stay flexible and responsive to changing conditions, embracing innovation and creativity to stay ahead in the competitive PYO industry.


Seems quite daunting? Don't worry, Agritisement UK can help with all of the above. Reach out today to see what PYO operation is best for you.


Profitability of PYO Farms


PYO operations can be financially rewarding for farmers who invest time and effort into their ventures. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), direct-to-consumer sales, including PYO, reached $2.8 billion in 2017 (source: [1]). Beyond generating revenue from farm produce, PYO farms can benefit from various income streams, including admissions, parking fees, farm store sales, and additional activities. Moreover, the agritourism aspect of PYO farms helps to diversify income, which can contribute to the long-term sustainability of agricultural businesses.


Key Factors for Profitability


  1. Marketing and Promotion: Develop a strong online presence through a dedicated website and active social media channels to attract visitors. Engage in local marketing initiatives, collaborate with tourism organisations, and participate in community events.

  2. Pricing Strategy: Set competitive prices that consider the cost of production, market demand, and the experiential value offered to customers. Consider offering loyalty programs or package deals to encourage repeat visits and increase customer retention. For example, Dunham Pumpkins, a past client of Agritisement UK, implemented a season pass for their pumpkin patch. This gave customers unlimited access to the pumpkin site for the pumpkin season encouraging additional spends on refreshments.

  3. Operational Efficiency: Optimise crop yields through proper cultivation techniques, employ efficient harvesting strategies, and minimise waste. Implement effective customer service practices, ensuring a positive experience that encourages word-of-mouth recommendations.

  4. Business Partnerships: Collaborate with local restaurants, cafes, or community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs to establish mutually beneficial partnerships that help promote your PYO farm and expand sales channels. Is there another PYO farm in the area? See them as a friend. Contribute to shared equipment to keep costs lower. Help each other for advice. It will help both of your PYO farms in the long run.


Starting a pick-your-own farm offers a unique agribusiness opportunity for farmers to connect directly with consumers, provide an immersive experience, and generate profitability beyond traditional farming practices. By following the steps outlined in this article, understanding market demand, and implementing effective marketing strategies, a PYO farm can become a successful and lucrative venture in the agricultural world.


Agritisement UK is always here to help you with your PYO operation. From digital marketing to online ticketing, reach out today.


Sources:

[1] United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agriculture Census: www.nass.usda.gov

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