Saturday, 16 July 2016

Pick Your Own!

Picking my own strawberries at Hill Farm PYO
Picking my own strawberries at Hill Farm PYO

At the South West edge of Peterborough, near the village of Chesterton you will find a special place called Hill Farm. Since in the early 1970s, the owners of the family-run farm have invited the public to visit between June to October to pick their own soft fruit and vegetables.

However, there's much more here than fields of fruit and veg. With families in mind, there is a play area for children, a display of birds of prey and a farm shop (handy if you don't feel like picking the fruit and veg yourself).

What's available obviously depends on the season.

Board lists fruits available
Just think what you could make with this lot

I visited in mid-July, and picked strawberries, raspberries and gooseberries. Tayberries, redcurrants, blackberries and blackcurrants were also available. At other times of year, sweetcorn and pumpkins are available to be picked.

Picking your own fruit is easy and a lot of fun. When you arrive you choose a container from the farm shop and when you have picked your fruit it is weighed (in the container) and you are charged accordingly. A board in the shop indicates how much the fruit costs per pound.

Freshly picked raspberries
Freshly picked raspberries

It's not the cheapest or quickest way to buy fruit, but that's missing the point. When you buy local, you are supporting a local business and Peterborough's economy. You are also supporting the environment, because the food you pick has not arrived by aeroplane, and you can also be sure that people were not exploited to bring this food to you. What you pick is also free of many of the chemicals necessary to preserve food that is transported to the UK from other countries.

Families picking strawberries
Families picking strawberries

On top of all of these benefits to the community and the environment, picking fruit is great exercise. In fact, it's harder work than you think, but a lot of fun and it's clear that it is a massive hit with families with small children.

Hill Farm is close by, it's a lovely day out, and you'll have lots of delicious, ethically-sourced fruit and vegetables to show for it at the end!

To find out more and discover what's in season, visit the Hill Farm website and Facebook page.

I picked strawberries, raspberries and gooseberries
I picked strawberries, raspberries and gooseberries.
This picture also shows you the three different sizes of container available.
You can bring your own container, but it must be weighed before you start to pick.

You may think this is a lot of fruit, and be wondering how I'm going to get through it all! I use fruit in all kinds of cooking and baking and even use it to make drinks. Anything I don't use straight away will be frozen so nothing will be wasted. Oh, and the Strawberries are destined for a jug of Pimms (obviously).

If you've ever only eaten fruit 'as it comes' why not start a new adventure and discover how easy it is to cook with fruits you have picked yourself. Shop-bought desserts are full of preservatives and sugar that your body doesn't need. Be adventurous and experiment with fruit. You may find you never need to buy prepared fruit or desserts from the supermarket again, because you just won't want to!

Hill Farm PYO Opening Times
Tuesday-Friday 9am-6pm
Saturday and Sunday 9am-5pm
CLOSED Mondays (except Bank holidays)
Bank holidays 9am-5pm

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