This month we went to a PYO farm – Pick Your Own farm – for the first time, and it was an amazing experience! We’ve ended up choosing a quiet Home Cottage Farm not far from Central London with chicken, sheep and of course lots of fruit trees.
This season you can pick apples, pears (William and Conference), raspberries and nuts there.
Blackberries, plums (Czar, Victoria, Damsons and Majorie Seedling) are also grown there.
As an urban child, I was really impressed by how many varieties of apples there are on a single small farm. We went picking Cox, Spartan, Blenheim, Red Peppin, Egremont Russet, and Bramley, and, according to the farm’s information, there are more varieties grown there such as Golden Delicious, Charles Cross, Discovery, Lorn Lambourne, Grenadier, Laxton Fortune and Laxton Superb and others.
Thanks very much for all the kind recommendations and advice in reply to my story and my own (although very limited) experience, here are my eight steps to get ready for a proper PYO farm trip. And don’t forget to check my blog about British lavender farm too!
How to plan your PYO farm visit:
- Choose a PYO farm carefully: see what they grow and how long it would take to get there. You can also choose between more posh farms and less known farms – the choice is up to you! Make sure you’ve checked the opening days and hours as it varies from season to season. If you have a dog, check if they’re allowed too. Also make sure you know whether the toilets and snack kiosks/cafe are open on the farm you’ve chosen – otherwise you might be very disappointed on the site.
- Make reservation if needed: due to the COVID-19 restrictions, majority (if not all of) PYO farms limit a number of visitors per day. Some work on a first come, first serve basis, others require an online booking with the exact time slots. Sometimes it’s possible to make a reservation on the same day, sometimes you have to book well in advance.
- Dress appropriately. Although you might want to be the most fashionable person in the orchard, think about the comfort too. Rubber boots might be a good idea as you’ll be walking on the grass and potentially on the mud. Some farms require face coverings – make sure you have one with you. And check the weather too, you might happen to need an umbrella!
- If you’re planning a picnic, check whether they are allowed on the PYO farm you’re visiting. If yes, don’t forget a nice blanket, basket and a hat to make your shot more interesting! If not, you might want to take a simpler photo – maybe only the basket will do 🙂
- Observe the COVID-19 restrictions on site, keep your distance and sanitize your hands before picking the fruits.
- Treat the trees and the surroundings gently! Learn the right way to pick the fruits (for instance, for apples – you should twist them from the branch) and pick only the fruits you’re going to buy and don’t leave any to rot on the ground.
- Although it’s very tempting, don’t eat fruits or berries before you’ve paid for them. If you made a booking online, the price of the ticket may be excluded from the total bill (check the regulation of the farm you’ve picked)
- Make sure you’ve put your harvest to a good use! For instance, in terms of apples, think about the fresh apples, apple pies, apple crumble, baked apples, applesauce, apple juice, caramel apples, apple strudel…. Personally, I spent all the evening baking apples and making an apple tart from our harvest, over 8 kilos of apples.
Voila, you’ve nailed it!
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