HOW WE OPERATE

The Tree Farm is a working farm. You will be picking vegetables in real fields from the plants that produced them — outdoors — no roof — dirt floors. If it is raining, you're going to get wet. If it has rained recently, you're going to get muddy. In rainy summers, mosquitoes live here. And when those beautiful Midwestern days beckon you outside, and fresh produce is at your finger tips, you may find it difficult to stop picking, once you've started.

The Scales Building at the Tree Farm
The Scales Building. This is headquarters for selling vegetables. Please come to the Scales Building when you are ready to check out or if you have any questions.
Sample INFO SheetSample INFO Sheet (larger version)
Sample INFO MapSample INFO Map (larger version)

The Scales Building is the 'headquarters' of the operation. Please go to the Scales Building if you have questions or need help of any kind, and when you are ready to check out.

The INFO (information) Sheet

Upon arrival at the farm, the first thing you need to do is to stop at the large sign that says "STOP. PLEASE TAKE AN INFO SHEET". There is a box containing a stack of INFO sheets. Please take an info sheet. The info sheet is our list of prices and availability for the day — sort of like a one page catalog. The INFO sheet answers these questions:

• What can I pick today?
• Where can I find it?
• How much does it cost?
• Are there special instructions for picking that item?

We would like every member of your group who will be picking produce or flowers to get a copy of the INFO sheet each time you visit. If members of your group do not read English, please help them to understand how we operate before they pick anything.

What can I pick today? Produce available for sale is listed on the INFO sheet. Produce at The Tree Farm is constantly ripening, getting picked, or even going over-ripe. Availability often changes from day to day, and prices change during the season, so please get a new INFO sheet every time you visit The Tree Farm. If an item is not on the INFO sheet, please do not pick it. We won't leave an item off the INFO sheet without a good reason, and that reason is not always visible. If in doubt, please ask at the Scales Building. We would rather help than have you pick the wrong thing.

Where can I find it? The map of our fields on the INFO sheet will help you find what you want. If you are unsure, or if you have difficulty with the map, please come to the Scales Building and we will help you.

How much does it cost? Prices are on the INFO sheet. Most items are priced by the pound. A few items are priced by the each (unit). At The Tree Farm, we have set prices and our employees are not authorized to negotiate the price of an item once that item has been picked.

Are there specific picking instructions? Yes — for many but not all items available for picking. For some vegetables such as potatoes and pickling cucumbers, we have a set of instructions that have evolved through the years to create best digging/picking conditions for all customers and to minimize waste. The instructions are on the INFO sheet. Please cooperate with us and follow the instructions. If in doubt, do not hesitate to ask us for clarification.

Before you pick an item, please: (1) check that the item is on the INFO sheet for the day, (2) check the price, (3) check the map to make sure you are in the right place and (4) check if there are instructions that we ask you to follow for certain items. Once you pick an item, you are committed to buy it. We cannot put it back on the shelf.

Checking out: When you are through harvesting, please proceed to the Scales Building to have your items weighed and priced. Payment is by cash or Wisconsin check only.

Helpful Hints and Other Topics

Please ask: Because The Tree Farm is unique, an initial visit to the farm may seem a bit overwhelming. We can help. Please ask for help if instructions on the INFO sheet or other aspects of how we operate are not clear to you or if you have other questions.

Driving/Parking: Please drive only on the roads marked with heavy lines on the INFO sheet map. The grassy area between roads and fields is a good place to park. Wherever you park, please do not block traffic or damage produce in fields. Whether driving or parking, please be considerate of other customers and our fields.

Our main roads have a gravel base. These are all-weather roads. Many of the field roads are sod, or dirt. When the soil is wet, these sod lanes can become slippery, muddy, and impassible. Please don't drive in areas we have blocked off — they are blocked off for a reason — and that reason just might be saving you towing charges.

Containers: Please bring your own containers. Grocery bags, boxes, buckets, crates — whatever you want. Rigid containers work better than grocery bags for large quantities of "squishable" produce like tomatoes. If your containers are heavier than a standard grocery bag (paper, plastic or cloth recycle), please start with the Scales Building to have your empty containers weighed. We charge by the pound for many vegetables, but we don't want to charge you by the pound for your own containers.

Harvesting tools: We provide shovels for crops that require digging. Please do not bring your own shovel — use ours. You may bring your own knives, scissors, or pruners. We have limited numbers of knives and pruners for your use. These come in handy to cut flowers, heads of cabbage, and other items.

Payment: We accept cash or local (Wisconsin) checks only. We do not accept debit or credit cards.

The Footprint Rule: Most people start looking for vegetables where they first enter a field. That's probably the same place you entered the field. To find where the produce is most abundant, walk into the field until you have gone one step past the last footprint. Hidden treasures (best produce) may also be found hiding among/under weeds. If you think about it, fields aren't like a store where an employee can come behind you and put another box on the shelf for the next person. Instead, plants grow where they are rooted, and people take the first thing they see.

Enjoy: Above all, have fun at The Tree Farm. Remember, produce all grows on plants. Plants grow at their own speed. Growth rate depends on the weather. We're sold out of your favorite? Get here earlier next time, or wait for more to ripen. Your favorite is over-ripe? Come back last week. Your favorite isn't ripe yet -- hey, we want it ripe, too, and we don't control the weather. What's available for picking today? Check out the vegetable listing on the main page of the Tree Farm's website. The list is updated daily during the growing season. Want to know what we raise throughout the season? Go to the "What We Raise, When It's Ripe" page.

The Tree Farm
The Pick-your-own Vegetables Place
www.thetreefarm.net
In Northwestern Dane County, Wisconsin, serving Madison and the surrounding area
8454 State Road 19
Cross Plains, WI 53528

608.798.2286

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Updated June 04 2017

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