by: Anna Scott
I’ve written for West London Mum before about the joys of London foraging, and while this is a great opportunity to benefit from the many ways in which our city can provide (as well as all that FREE fruit), it is an activity that takes a great deal of planning. However, there is another, slightly more straightforward way you can get your hands on the freshest of the fresh fruit: pick-your-own farms. Not only is PYO a great way to stock up your freezer for the autumn, but at a time of year when we’re constantly on the lookout for activities to amuse and entertain, getting the kids to search for their own harvest does two jobs in one.
WLM featured an article on nearby pick-your-own sites last year, but we felt this needed expanding, especially with the amazing bounty this wonderful weather could potentially produce. Here we double our number of PYO farms not too far from west London and present them together below, in one handy list.
Crockford Bridge Farm Shop and Pick Your Own, Addlestone, Surrey, KT15 2BU
Close to Weybridge and open seven days a week, this farm shop offers more than 20 different crops (although not all at the same time). In August, you can take your pick (excuse the pun) from a wide selection including strawberries, raspberries, spinach, carrots, tomatoes, French beans and sweetcorn. To top it all off, they’ve got an ice cream parlour too. We don’t think you need any further persuasion.
Grays Farm, Wokingham, Berkshire, RG40 3AN
A short trip up the motorway and a pleasant drive down a few country roads (please go to their website and don’t rely on my vague directions), you’ll find Grays Farm. They’re open until October and can supply you with all the usual fruit and vegetable suspects as well as red and black currants, cauliflower, courgettes and beetroot. Please note, though, they are closed on Sundays.
Copas Farms, Cookham, Berkshire, SL6 9EE; and Iver, Buckinghamshire, SL0 0LU (the postcode takes you to the main trade entrance; follow PYO signs from there)
Copas Farms are spoiling us with not one but two sites this side of the city. Stock up on your plums, peas in the pod and broad beans as well as many other crops, and according to their website, they still have gooseberries available in Iver.
Home Cottage Farm, Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, SL0 0BB
Located just west of Uxbridge, this farm grows soft fruits and apples. Choose from 18 varieties of apple and pear, plus plums, raspberries, blackberries and honey. You may also spot the free-range guinea fowl, chickens and sheep that roam around the farm.
Parkside Farm, Enfield, Middlesex, EN2 8LA
Crops here include “table-top” strawberries—no bending required! Other harvest includes spinach, Swiss chard, courgettes, green onions, beetroot, marrows and various berries and currants. The shop sells, among other things, ice cream, meringues and chocolate dipping sauce.
Flower Farm Shop, Godstone, Surrey, RH9 8BP
This shop has extensive opening hours—seven days a week, from 9 to 6. Head down to pick your own rhubarb, asparagus, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, Victoria plums, corn and runner beans. In addition to the fruit and veg (and, of course, flowers), you’ll also find a traditional butchers’ shop.
There are many dos and don’ts associated with pick your own, the main one being don’t eat the produce before you pay. Check the various sites for their specific guidelines and opening hours before you head out and there’ll be a greater chance of a bumper harvest all around. I don’t know about you, but I can taste the crumble already…