Ripe for the picking – 7 steps to protect your produce operation

“You pick” farms offer fresh, healthy family entertainment. But before you open your berry patch or orchard to paying customers, be sure you have safety precautions in place, and the appropriate insurance coverage.

Check your insurance policy for product liability, premises liability, medical payment coverage, and deductibles.

Most policies contain premises liability to insure you against accidents that occur on premises. Product liability is equally essential and provides protection in case a customer becomes ill, for example, after eating produce from your farm.

Medical payment coverage is optional protection that provides limited coverage for customer injuries, even if your business wasn’t negligent. Alternately, your policy may require a deductible for bodily injury claims. Work with your agent to understand this coverage and make sure the options are right for you.  

No matter what insurance you choose, diminish your risk with this Pick-Your-Own Safety Checklist:
  1. Advise customers to wash all produce before eating. Listeria outbreaks can occur even in perfect conditions.
  2. Offer water when the weather is hot.
  3. Consider CPR certification to be better prepared for emergencies.
  4. If you can’t view your entire harvest area, drive around and check on your patrons. Train your staff how to respond if a customer is in distress. Establish a check-in system so you know if people are lingering in the field or orchard.
  5. Patrol your property for bees and wasps, and prohibit picking in areas near hives.
  6. For orchard crops, plant dwarf trees or prune trees to grow low. If you provide any sort of step ladder, limit the height to two feet, max. Ladders must be in excellent condition with appropriate weight capacity.
  7. Post signage prohibiting children (and others) from climbing trees, and ask that children be supervised at all times.
Protect your farm with standard safety procedures and review your insurance policy to be sure it has the coverage you need and want.