summer is cherry picking time and hordes of people descend upon the cherry farms at the mornington peninsula to experience the thrill and joy of picking and eating the ripe fruit off the trees. in temperate countries in the northern hemisphere, cherries ripen in june and july whereas in australia, the fruiting season is the months of november and december.
although i have taken friends and relatives to these cherry farms, i have not been inside one to pick the fruit. maybe it is because i have had enough of picking 'buah cherry' (jamaican cherry)when i was a boy. another reason could be that i am not particularly fond of cherries, sweet or sour. the third reason is the cost of picking.
different farms have different policies with regard to eating the fruit as you pick. some farms have no restriction on the amount consumed while you are on the farm while others advise that "you may taste some but it does not mean that you eat all you can". however, it is also not possible for the owner to deploy workers to check that this ruling is strictly adhered to.
for entry into the enclosed farm, most farms charge adults $10 and children, $5. the rate they charge for the amount you pick and take out depends on the prevailing market rate. at this particular farm, it was $12.90/kilo. before going to the farm to pick cherries, we had bought some at the market for $9.50/kilo. most of the cherry farms are open 7 days a week but there are some that are open for picking only on weekends.
upon payment of the entry fee you are given a pail with a plastic bag. i do not think there is a time limit. you then follow the signs to the trees which are available for picking. if the cherries are high up on the tree and beyond your reach, there are ladders around which you may use. you have to be quite gentle with cherries because they bruise easily.
what you are actually paying is for the novelty experience of picking your own cherries. you will not be likely to recoup your $10 by trying to eat as much as you can while in the process of picking the cherries. still, it makes for a good family outing in summer. anyway, children below 10 years of age are not charged any entry fee.
here are some tips on cherry picking: go to the farm early, before the crowd appears; don't wear a new shirt to go cherry picking because your shirt may get stained; look for heavy, firm cherries with a shiny skin and fresh stem; you should pick one cherry at a time and not pull down a whole bunch; pick those that are dark red or mahogany in colour - the darker the colour, the sweeter the cherry; and if you want the cherry to stay fresh longer, leave the stem intact.