Fruit pickers ‘gorge as they go’
Marlborough fruit growers say pick-your-own berries has turned into gorge-as-you-go for some customers.
Berry grower Andrew Bassett put up a sign reminding customers of picking courtesy after he noticed people taking advantage of the honesty system.
‘‘We believe in fair exchange. The berries are pick your own, not all you can eat,’’ the sign said.
Bassett, who owns a boutique operation at the Pot Shed on Raupara Rd, said he had to step in on several occasions to stop people eating too many berries as they were picking them.
For Bassett, the berry season was coming to an end this week. He wanted to continue the ‘‘picking experience’’ for customers next season so they could see first-hand how fruit was grown, but the excessive amount of berries people ate while they picked was costing him money.
‘‘We were just getting a bit fed up of people coming in thinking they’re entitled to eat as many as they like while they’re picking,’’ Bassett said.
‘‘When you get a family and they take one punnet and there’s four people picking and tasting as they go, that’s where the balance shifts and it becomes unfair for the farmer.’’
In November 2018, growers in Whanganui were forced to temporarily close pick-your-own berry farms after repeated thefts.
Bassett said a taste as you were picking was ‘‘OK’’.
‘‘So you can understand what berry to pick . . . whether it’s dark enough, sweet enough.
‘‘But when it gets out of control, we have to say something. There’s a difference between tasting and eating as many as you can.’’
The only way to prevent theft was to stop the pick-your-own system, and sell the berries through the shop, he said.
That would mean they had to employ pickers.