It’s Pimms and strawberries season as the whole country has been gripped by this summer’s sporting championships. Whilst we may not have had the results we’d dreamed of, our English sporting talent has done us proud – especially in the Olympics this week.
Strawberry picking at Pearce’s Farm
I decided that I should focus on making the most of strawberry season. So I set off to Pearce’s Farm, a short hop up the A10 between Puckeridge and Buntingford, for a spot of relaxing strawberry picking.
You can’t beat the joy of a pick-your-own (PYO) farm. It takes me straight back to strawberry picking as a child, and again when my boys were young. Most of the juicy red fruits would have made their way into our mouths rather than the basket, with sticky red hands a dead giveaway. At the checkout we were lucky they didn’t weigh us rather than the basket.
When I visited the strawberries were ripening nicely, though there is now an entrance fee of £1.50 for the privilege of picking them yourself (to cover that hidden extra weight no doubt). For those that haven’t the time or inclination to pick strawberries, there are plenty ready picked inside.
The shop had its usual picture perfect produce on display. It’s my go-to for specialist ingredients, and often comes up trumps. The cafe was fully open, with plenty of space to sit inside or out so we treated ourselves to tea and cake too.
This was my first post-Lockdown visit, and it was good to see that a new building had popped up next to the farm shop, with Bridget B’s meats permanently in residence. Looking to diversify, Bridget set up a shop selling meat from the farm in Sacombe back in 2005. Along with the butchers shop in Watton-at-Stone, this new flagship store gives another outlet to buy their locally reared meat across the region.
A farm that hasn’t had to redefine itself is a rare thing, and another favourite of mine, Foxholes Farm in Hertford Heath, is constantly evolving. A recent trip there shows they too have been busy making their own improvements.
The cafe there is currently closed, but they have expanded the shop and incorporated a new take away and deli counter for ‘food on the mooove’. Their knowledgeable butchers are still on hand and I’m looking forward to the return of their butchery classes and other events.
With school holidays approaching, Foxholes’ Farm Park is open to the public and their big new venture is glamping, with a brand new luxury safari lodge and pods overlooking their lakes. With staycations soaring, it’s a savvy move that’s bound to be a success.
Church Farm in Ardeley has chosen a similar route, and has a number of camping options, including woodland glamping in wood cabins. It’s not the easiest place to reach, nestled between Bennington and Walkern on the outskirts of Stevenage, but it is worth the journey, for the miles-from-civilisation feel. There’s everything you need, as the site boasts a cafe and local pub as well as the well stocked farm shop for essentials. They even offer goat walking for the full on farm experience, and plenty more to keep the family occupied over the summer.
So now, all this talk of fruit, farms and the promise of the holidays ahead should have banished the sports scores from your mind too, and we can move on. Pick some strawberries, buy some meat for a BBQ, consider a camping trip at a local farm and look forward to the next big sporting event.
Try some of these surprising pairings with strawberries – these really bring out their flavour
🍓a shake of vanilla sugar
🍓a sprinkle of black pepper
🍓a drizzle of balsamic vinegar
🍓a scattering of fresh basil
🍓a splash of Pimms with fresh mint
🍓a grating of white chocolate
Or straight from the strawberry bush…🍓🍓🍓😉
Gravely fruit near Hitchin
Cammas Hall near Sawbridgeworth
Parkside Farm PYO Near Enfield
Burylanefarm Near Royston