By Elisa Freeling
Nothing says summer like picking your own farm-fresh fruit. All around London, PYO farms offer everything from strawberries to sweetcorn, beetroot to broccoli, French beans to Swiss chard. Bring the kids to eat local, show them where their food comes from, and support local farms. (If you don’t have the time or inclination to pick it yourself, many have farm shops as well.) Before you go, be sure to check the website to confirm opening hours—last PYO entry of the day is often 30 minutes to an hour before closing—and available pickings.
COPAS FARMS, COOKHAM, BERKSHIRE, SL6 9EE; AND IVER, BUCKINGHAMSHIRE, SL0 0LU
Copas Farms offers not one but two sites, in Cookham and Iver. Stock up on your strawberries, cherries, raspberries, currents and broad beans as well as many other crops; the website lists what’s currently available. In the shop, you’ll find local honey, jams and more.
CROCKFORD BRIDGE FARM SHOP AND PICK YOUR OWN, ADDLESTONE, SURREY, KT15 2BU
Close to Weybridge and offering pick-your-own from May to September, Crockford Bridge grows rhubarb and red currents, spinach and strawberries, beetroot and carrots, among many others. To top it off, they’ve got an ice cream parlour too.
FLOWER FARM SHOP, GODSTONE, SURREY, RH9 8BP
Crops include strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, plus sweetcorn, asparagus and more; ring their PYO line to check the most up-to-date availability. You’ll also find a traditional butcher’s shop, a deli counter, a tea room and ale brewed in their farm brewery by the Godstone Brewers. If you’d like more reasons to go, they’re holding a beer festival at Flower Farm from the 27th to the 29th of July 2018, 5 to 8pm, no entry fee, including live music, comedy, food and, of course, freshly brewed beer.
GARSONS, ESHER, SURREY, KT10 8LS
Claiming to be the UK’s largest PYO farm, Garson’s conveniently maps out their current (ha!) offerings, showing what’s available to pick and where. Beetroot and broccoli, blackcurrants and broad beans, sugar snaps and strawberries—check out their crop calendar for all that’s on and upcoming as well. Garsons have recently introduced a £4 per adult minimum spend, which is then taken off the total you pay at the till.
GRAYS FARM, WOKINGHAM, BERKSHIRE, RG40 3AN
Grays Farm’s PYO is open May to October and you can get your strawberries, black and red currants, broccoli, marrow, courgettes and more. There’s a farm shop, too.
HEWITTS FARM, ORPINGTON, KENT, BR6 9BX
Plums and peas, swiss chard and spinach, cabbage and courgettes—all these and more are available to pick here. You can also buy honey, free-range eggs, bedding plants, logs and kindling and such in the farm shop.
HOME COTTAGE FARM, IVER HEATH, BUCKINGHAMSHIRE, SL0 0BB
Just outside the M25, this farm grows everything it sells, mostly soft fruits and apples. In various months (generally July through October or November), you can choose from 18 varieties of apple and pear, plus plums, raspberries, blackberries and honey.
McLauchlans of Boxted, Boxted, Essex, CO4 5RB
Near Colchester, this farm grows the usual currants and berries, including jam strawberries and dessert gooseberries, plus sweetcorn and broad beans. The shop sells potatoes from a nearby village as well as cream from a local dairy, and offers freshly frozen fruit year-round.
PARKSIDE FARM, ENFIELD, MIDDLESEX, EN2 8LA
Crops here include ‘table-top’ strawberries—no bending required!—plus currants, raspberries and blackberries. Veg on offer ranges from spinach, Swiss chard and sweetcorn to courgettes, green onions, and French beans. The PYO has a £4 per person minimum spend, and the shop sells, among other things, ice cream, meringues and chocolate dipping sauce.
STANHILL FARM, WILMINGTON, KENT, DA2 7HD
Stanhill Farm offers berries, beans, sweetcorn and more—and there’s even a maize maze with a theme that changes from year to year. Check the website to see what’s available, and come back for pumpkins October half-term.
Can’t leave London? Have no fear, you can pick your own here!
Farm Bus from Root Labs, 42 Newington Causeway, London SE1 6DR
The Farm Bus is located in the community market Mercato Metropolitano. The lower level of the bus offers an educational opportunity of what can be grown indoors. Upstairs has been converted into a unique LED light growing environment featuring strawberries, herbs and some vegetables.
Forage all across the city
Our local parks and even canals are filled with produce ripe food picking. From elderflower for delicious cordial to blackberries for jam and much more. Check out sites like Forage London for spots and group outings, or just have a look around your local green areas. Find a spot, grab a basket and enjoy. Best of all, it’s free.