About Us - U-Pick: A New Tradition
Starts in 1905

Our Place in History    |    U-Pick: A New Tradition Starts in 1905  
Wilsons Take Over the Reins: Coincidence or Fate?

Like most things in farming, the launching of "U-pick" at Hicks farm was a case of circumstances giving rise to invention. The Hicks had been farming commercially for several years and had become fairly successful. And, of course, they couldn't have done it without the help of local labor, especially at critical harvest times.

But in 1905, when Charles Hicks went around to gather up some local folks for help harvesting cherries, he ran into a string of bad luck. Everyone was busy with their own farms or was celebrating "getting the hay in" (and they got a lot of hay in that year!). With the cherries about ready to fall of the trees, Charles put the word out that the orchard was open to those interested in bringing their own containers and picking cherries - for a better price than cherries could be purchased in the markets.

Charles projected that only a few people would come to pick their own and that he would end up losing most of the crop that year. But surprisingly, word got around fast and a crowd of folks came from all over to pick their own cherries. Many came as a family, bringing along big picnic dinners and making an outing of their harvest.

Well, to say the least, Charles did so well that year with pick-your-own on a crop he might have otherwise lost, he decided to open his cherry orchard to the public again the next season - and U-pick has been a popular Hicks Orchard tradition ever since.

Apples, on the other hand, weren't opened for pick-your-own until 1957, and again it was circumstances dictating innovation. That year, late in the summer, a terrible hail storm hit the farm, damaging the entire apple crop. At that time, Ralph Hicks and his wife Peggy, along with Ralph's brother Clifford, were running the farm. Knowing that they would not be able to sell their hail-blemished apples to the commercial fruit brokerage, they put an ad in the local paper: "Hail-scarred Apples - Bring your own container - Reduced price." (The price that year was $1/bushel!)

Surprisingly to the Hicks, so many people came out to pick their own apples that the orchard actually brought in more money with this damaged crop than they would have received at the commercial coop for a normal crop. (The economics of U-pick are a win-win situation for both orchard and picker.)

At Peggy's insistence, the Hicks intentionally opened a section of their apple orchard for U-pick the next season, and again it was a large success. Being fast learners, from that season on the Hicks farm was operated for pick-your-own crops.

Our Place in History    |    U-Pick: A New Tradition Starts in 1905  
Wilsons Take Over the Reins: Coincidence or Fate?

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