Summer is here; don’t let the occasional scarf weather convince you otherwise! That’s why farms across the country are now opening their doors to visitors for PYO, or ‘pick your own’. Not only does picking your own fruit provide an idyllic and active way to bond with friends and family, but it guarantees the freshest produce for jams, salads, smoothies, or just eating plain. (Psst: If you didn’t already know, a copper jam pan does the *absolute best* job of locking in the colour and flavour of fruit at its peak. Shop jam pans and jam tools here.)
We gathered a list of six farms no more than two hours outside of London by car or train. Harvest times for different fruits and vegetables vary, so make sure to call ahead to ask what’s on offer before you go. As a safety measure, some farms require booking in advance.
Crockford Bridge Farm
Taking up 80 acres of green belt land in West Surrey, Crockford Bridge Farm specialises in traditionally grown produce, meaning they do not use polytunnels. (Their reasoning is simple: taste!) At the moment, in late June, they have rhubarb, strawberries, gooseberries, currants, and blackberries, and beetroot ready to pick, to name *just* a few. However, with any PYO farm, it’s worth calling in advance to see what’s available before you go, as every growing season has its challenges. Crockford Bridge Farm allows walk-in’s anytime on the weekdays, but requires booking for weekend slots. Bonus: There’s a gelato bar on the premises, as well as a tea shack with cakes from local bakeries. New Haw Road, Addlestone, Nr. Weybridge, Surrey KT15 2BU; 01932 846611; crockfordbridgefarm.co.uk.
Distance: About 45 minutes by car from our Chiswick store, or 1 hour and 30 minutes by bus and train.
If you’re looking for a place to have a long, leisurely lunch after picking fruit, go to New House Farm, located in the outskirts of Horsham in West Sussex. Their Strawberry Fields Tea Room serves food made with ingredients sourced from their own or nearby farms, most of which is available for purchase in their Farm Shop, located in a converted 16th century barn with vaulted ceilings. New House Farm Shop, Old Crawley Road, Faygate, Horsham, RH12 4RU; 01293 851890; newhousefarmshop.co.uk.
Distance: Approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes by car from our Borough Market shop, or 1 hour and 15 minutes by train and bus.
A pick-your-own paradise offering summer produce from strawberries to sweetcorn, based on nature’s mood. Since it’s early in the season, slots are only released a day in advance, so make sure to check frequently and be ready to go when the time is ripe. Hadley Road, Enfield, Middlesex, EN2 8LA; 020 8367 2035; parksidefarmpyo.co.uk.
Distance: Just under an hour by car from our Hampstead store, and 1 hour and 30 minutes by train and bus.
Established in 1871, Garsons in Surrey is one of the UK’s largest PYO farms (they also have a location in Hampshire). You need to book a Farm Pass to participate, which is easy to do on their website. Right now (in late June), the following are ready to pick: beetroot, broccoli, carrots, gooseberries, strawberries, broad beans, cabbages, cauliflowers and spinach. Such is the benefit of visiting a large farm! There is also a large garden centre, as well as a tea house with a sprawling menu and a farm shop voted Surrey’s Best, with ingredients from local butchers, bakers, vineyards, and breweries. Winterdown Road, Esher, Surrey, KT10 8LS; 01372 460181; garsons.co.uk.
Distance: About 45 minutes from our Chiswick store, and 1 hour and 30 minutes by train and bus.
One of the UK’s longest established PYO operations, Maynards is a small family-run fruit farm located on a picturesque, high elevation spot that avoids spring frost. They reopened on 17 June with fields full of strawberries, gooseberries and rhubarb ready to pick. There’s no booking system in place, so give them a call before visiting. While you’re there, it’s worth visiting nearby Scotney Castle, a National Trust site, and Pashley Manor Gardens, which has a lovely cafe that’s open from April to September. Maynards Farm, Windmill Hill / Cross Lane, Ticehurst, TN5 7HQ; 01580 200394; maynardsfruit.co.uk.
Distance: About 1 hour and 30 minutes by car or train from our Borough Market store.
Copas Farms are PYO farms with two locations west of London, both reachable under two hours; in Iver (Buckinghamshire) and Cookham (Berkshire). Their website reports that strawberries are currently available in both locations, as well as ever-elusive cherries (there are more in Cooksham at the moment). Make a booking at either location on their to-the-point, user-friendly site. Their Farm Shops include honey made on site, as well as a range of other local produce from chutneys to eggs.
Calves Lane Farm, Billet Lane, Iver, Buckinghamshire, SL0 0LU; 01753 652727; copasfarms.co.uk.
Lower Mount Farm, Long Lane, Cookham, Berkshire, SL6 9RF; 01628 529511; copasfarms.co.uk.
Distance: The Iver location is a 30-45 minute drive from our Chiswick store by car, and slightly more than an hour by train. The Cookham location is about an hour by car from Chiswick, and just under two hours by train.