Now's the time to pick your own fruit and veg near London
Pick your own farms not only provide a fun day out for the kids, they're also a great way to stock up on the ingredients for your next culinary adventure
It was all lush greenery, blooming flowers, sparkling sunshine... and we want in.
Good news then, that it's officially pick your own fruit and veg season. Since most of our homeschooling has revolved around baking daily with the kids, this isn't just a fun day out for us, but essential for replenishing our strawberry tart ingredient stash (speaking of strawberries, have you heard that weather conditions this year mean English strawberries will be the sweetest they’ve ever been?).
There are plenty of pick your own (PYO) farms within a short drive of central London, typically open from late spring through October (peak season is end of June-August), where you can stock up on everything from chard to rhubarb to berries and beans - just walk, pick, pay by weight and enjoy the fruits of your labour when you get home.
Just note: in light of the current pandemic, rules vary at each location, but expect to pay by card and note there may be limits on the number of people allowed on site. Many are now offering pre-booked slots online ahead of your visit, so be sure to check the relevant websites.
Photo: Clem Onojeghuo
Lower Mount Farm, Long Lane, Cookham, Berkshire, SL6 9RF
Calves Lane Farm, Billet Lane, Iver, Buckinghamshire SL0 0LU
With two locations - one in Berkshire, one in Buckinghamshire - Copas Farms has plenty to entice for those looking for PYO fruit and veg: strawberries, asparagus and rhubarb is ready to pick in Iver, while those heading to Cookham can get their fill of the first of the season's strawberries, broad beans and asparagus. From July, runner beans, cherries and raspberries are up for grabs, while sweetcorn and apples are available in August and September.
Parkside Farm, Hadley Road, Enfield, Middlesex, EN2 8LA
You can find an exciting array of fruits and vegetable at Parkside Farm, like all kinds of scrumptious berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blackcurrants, red currants and gooseberries) as well as juicy tomatoes and a variety of vegetables like various types of squash, sweetcorn, courgettes, French beans, onions, beetroot, marrows, spinach, Swiss chard and broad beans. Now all we need are some scrumptious healthy eating recipes...
Photo: Bethany Ballatyne
Home Cottage Farm
Bangors Road South, Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire SL0 0BB
This soft fruit and apple farm grows everything on-site and should be open from the end of July 2020 for raspberry and blackberry picking. Summer pies, here we come.
Photo: Mark Duffel
Birchwood Road, Wilmington, Dartford, Kent, DA2 7HD
There's fab fruit and veg picking at Stanhill Farm (we're particularly excited to stock up on black and green tomatoes in August, as well as smiling sunflowers). From October, you can have a grand old time picking pumpkins in the pumpkin patch - grab your wheelbarrows.
Photo: Cristina Georgescu
Hawkswick Lodge Farm
Harpenden Road, St. Albans, Hertfordshire, AL3 6JG
Make it a jam-making, pie-baking weekend - just visit Hawkswick Lodge Farm first, a family-run farm where you can pick soft fruits like strawberries, raspberries, red currants, blackcurrants, blackberries and gooseberries. They expect to open around June 20th but check back for updates.
Photo: Artur Rutkowski
Garsons, Winterdown Road, West End, Esher, Surrey, KT10 8LS
Garsons has it all: a massive garden centre, farm shop and restaurant, there's also a PYO farm with broccoli, peas, cabbages, sugar snaps, carrots, beetroots, apples, dahlias and more. There's a fantastic pumpkin and squash patch in the autumn, too. They're still closed, but hope to open at the end of June.
Photo: Chiara Conti
Court Rd, Bromley, Chelsfield, Orpington BR6 7QL
Head to Hewitt's to pick a selection of fruit and veg like strawberries, gooseberries, spinach, Swiss chard, red currants, blackcurrants, raspberries, peas, broad beans and spring onions. Reopening June 2020.