Pick-your-own farms have reopened after lockdown. With over 28 of them scattered across the UK, there’s bound to be one near you.
At the Copas Farms in Cookham and Iver in London, it is picking season for strawberries, raspberries, cherries, apples and beans. One of the many pick-your-own (PYO) farms to choose from in London, your visit will not only help support locally grown produce, but also reduce single-use plastic waste that supermarket shopping comes with, making for an ethical day out.
Planning the day
Some farms allow you to turn up on the day, but purchasing a ticket online prior to your visit may be required by others. At Copas, pre-booked tickets cost £4 per person and all the money goes into the produce you pick and buy. Time slots last two hours, but this can vary depending on the farm.
Unfortunately, because of Covid-19, picnics and eating the produce before it’s paid for has been banned. Make sure you have had something to eat before your visit.
While PYO farms are a great, family-friendly destination, groups cannot exceed five people, and pets are not allowed unless they are guide dogs. Going with friends or even alone is equally enjoyable. You might even want to take a friend who despises fruit: the fruit-picking experience could transform them.
There is no need to bring your own containers, as plastic tubs that you can take home afterwards are provided for your fruit and vegetable pickings. But things you should take are water to keep hydrated, hand sanitiser to keep clean, and a face mask to keep safe.
Dress comfortably from head to toe, as there’s quite a bit of walking around, but don’t let that stop you from keeping it stylish: so you’ll be ready for those Instagram photos.
What to expect
A board showing how much of each crop is left is displayed at the entrance, where you will be guided to the shop to hand in your pre-booked ticket, and pick up some baskets.
Being a spacious location, social distancing is easy, and signs are provided to ensure you don’t get lost. Due to the heatwave, we highly recommend saving the berries for later, and picking the rest of the crops first. You can keep waste to the minimum by making sure you only pick ripe produce: especially as anything you pick has to be paid for.
Once you’re done, your produce is weighed and prices can vary from £10 to £15 a bucket. There are more groceries available at the shop for you to buy if you are missing any staples.
You may find you’ve probably eaten half of your pickings by the time you get home, but if you have managed to resist you could use them to make recipes ranging from fruit platters and smoothies to pastries and soups.
It’s an enjoyable experience, where you’ll find yourself feeling like a child in a sweet shop. The best part is, instead of a pick-and-mix bag, you’ll be taking home a basket of nutritious, ethically-sourced fruit and vegetables.