If we asked you to imagine the Great British countryside, what would you see in your mind? Endless rolling hills? Lush green fields? Animals at every other turn?
What about Pick Your Own farms? You might not have stepped foot in one since you were little, but they seem to have made a comeback in recent years and now is a great time to visit one.
It’s no secret that farming is an important industry in the UK. In fact, in 2014 the Government reported an enormous 71% of total UK land was Utilised Agricultural Area (UAA).
Essentially we’re surrounded by animals and crops all over the country, but we don’t always know where our local farms are. As the world and our lifestyles continue to change, the desire to source local, seasonal, fresh foods is increasing all the time – but we’re missing out on the opportunity to sample delicious British produce right on our doorsteps, made by the people who really know how to live by the land.
Staying close to home
There’s a great website at www.pickyourownfarms.org.uk which enables you to search for farms in your local area and see what produce is available to pick, depending on the time of year.
Directions, contact details and even information on how you can pay for the crops are also available, and you’ll be surprised by how many farms there are to choose from.
Pick of the crop
If picking your own farms (and produce) is something you’d like to try then it’s important to find out what’s available before you set off with something specific in mind.
For September/October, seasonal fruit and veg include apples, grapes and everyone’s favourite Halloween necessity: pumpkins.
(It’s worth noting that this may differ from farm to farm.)
What to do with your pickings?
There are plenty of things you can do with these great ingredients other than just eat them raw. Why not take a look at our top recipes for Almond Porridge with Strawberries, Seeds & Nuts (so you can use up those delicious pumpkin seeds), Apricot & Apple Granola Crumble Cake, Chunky Nut Breakfast Bites and other delicious snacks, treats and meals.
Alternatively, you can follow these top picking tips to turn your fresh fruit and veg into other tasty treats for your home:
- Plan ahead and make room for your fruit and veg in the fridge or freezer before you head to the farm, and freeze fruits straight away if you’re planning to use them at a later stage so that nothing goes to waste.
- Berries freeze particularly well, and can be eaten just like that or baked into comforting pies. A great tip is to freeze berries loosely in a single layer to avoid crushing any, and you can pack them up together once they’re no longer soft.
- Make jams when the fruit is fresh, rather than leaving it for a few days. Simply crush the fruit (after washing) and heat with sugar in a pan before setting. Make sure you have enough jars and containers ready and always wash them before use!
- Enjoy your picks straight away by adding fresh fruits to Jordans Granola, Muesli or Porridge and tuck in!
On another note…
- Make sure you dress appropriately for the day – we all know how quickly the weather can change, so wear layers that can easily be added or peeled away and sensible footwear you’ll be comfortable in. Also, it’s a good idea to pack some water and snacks to keep you going throughout.
- Always follow the rules of the farm and, as tempting as it may be, try your best not to eat on the go. Farmers can lose a great deal of crop this way, and of course we want to do everything we can to support them!
- Most importantly don’t forget to enjoy yourself! Picking your own fruit and veg is a wonderful way to spend time with your family and friends, and kids love getting stuck when it comes to filling up the baskets!