Food should be about fun and one of my favourite food-related activities during the summer is visiting pick-your-own farms.
They are the perfect place for finding the freshest, sweetest fruit. You can pick the fruit when it’s at its very best and decide exactly what you want. You’re not restricted by what’s on sale at the market or greengrocer – you can literally choose what you want and you can’t get more traceable than that.
I have fond memories of visiting pick-your-own farms as a child. I’d go there with my mum and dad and it would be a real treat. On one occasion, the owner of the farm scared me . . .
Like most children, I had a habit of eating more fruit than I put in my basket and getting into fruit fights while I was there. When we went into the farm shop, the owner told me: ‘I’ve got eyes in the back of my head’.
For a while, I actually believed him. I thought he could see everything that we were up to. I thought that if I ate a strawberry, he would know about it, or if I threw one at someone, he’d know. It took a while to realise he was only joking but in the meantime it certainly reduced the amount I ate. It must have been his tried and tested way to stop children visiting his farm from eating his fruit!
It’s debateable as to how much fruit is eaten for free and how much is bought when people visit pick-your-own farms. Though, as I’ve grown up, I’ve become more responsible and the fruit farmers now have nothing to fear.
There are plenty of good reasons for people to visit fruit farms – particularly when families have young children. Fruit farms are the perfect place to introduce kids to good food. There’s always plenty of fun to have and youngsters can make the connection between farm to fork.
I think it’s really important that we do what we can to let children know exactly where their food comes from. It always frightens me when I see surveys that ask questions of children about where food comes from. Making the connection between where food is grown is really important for the future of our farms.
Here in Shropshire there are plenty of great pick-your-own farms and I’m a regular when it’s the season for gooseberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants, white currants, redcurrants and cherries, among others. And, don’t worry, I don’t nick any – everything I pick is paid for . . .well, maybe I have just a few samples but all in the name of quality control!