Best Pick Your Own farms shortlisted for national awards
Some of the best Pick Your Own Farms in the UK have been named after being shortlisted for the national Farm Retail Awards.
Finalists have been shortlisted from Worcestershire, Northumberland, Kent and Swindon for this category and they will go through to the award ceremony in March 2022.
The category, sponsored by Digitickets, has been judged earlier than others in the awards in order for the judging to take place at the height of the PYO season, allowing the visits to take place at the peak time of year for these businesses.
Those shortlisted for the PYO category include:
- Bells Farm Shop, Chadwick Bank, Stourport-on-Severn, Worcestershire is a third-generation, family-run, PYO and Farm shop with 40 acres of fruit and vegetables. It grows over 100 varieties of fruit and vegetables, for the best flavours and to create as long a picking season as possible. The Colwill family were Pick Your Own pioneers in the 1960’s and the tradition continues with innovations to encourage new customers to return to the fun and taste of PYO. Customers are welcome to the PYO all year round whether to pick or just to see how produce is grown. Bells believes that it’s important to connect customers with their food and where it comes from. The PYO fields have been redesigned to improve access and in 2020, they opened a free Adventure Play Area to encourage family visits. There’s also a glamping site – Ambers Bell Tent Camping – by the PYO fields which brings new customers to PYO and enjoy the flavour of freshly picked produce.
- Brocksbushes Farm, Stocksfield, Northumberland planted its first fruit crop (raspberries) in 1979, however things really took off when strawberries were planted in 1981. The business has developed over the years to include a Farm Shop and Tea Room which now operates all year round. The business was adapted to create a COVID-safe PYO experience, including introducing a one-way system and using booking systems. As a result, the business earned a reputation for being a safe place to visit and received lots of glowing reviews. Although 2020 was a challenge, furlough and homeschooling meant people came picking in June making it the best June, and season, on record (compared to comparable planting years). In total customers picked over 32 tonnes of fruit, resulting in next to no wastage! PYO pumpkins started in 2019, and in the second year they increased the number of pumpkins sold by 245%. Double the number of pumpkins have been planted for 2021 and investment continues in this event which is a fantastic extension to the PYO season.
- Felderland PYO Farm, Deal Road, Worth, Kent is one of the largest and most popular PYO farms in Kent growing seasonal produce including table-top strawberries, cherries, raspberries, plums, blackberries, currants, pumpkins and more. Felderland Farm PYO offers a window of opportunity for the public to get a glimpse of this 5th generation, family-run fruit farming business founded in 1892. With so many years of experience, they consider themselves as experts in fruit growing and have applied this to Felderland PYO which they took over three years ago. It’s been transformed from an unloved site with old and uncared for strawberry and raspberry plants. There’s been a £2700,000 investment since 2019, which has created state of the art table-top strawberry, blueberry and raspberry polytunnels, and new for 2021: a farm themed play area, coffee shop and large hard-standing car park. There’s also a passionate PYO team catering to its visitors’ needs and the team are proud to have enhanced the customer experience at Felderland Farm dramatically. Most exciting of all, they have planted 60,000 pumpkin and squash plants which will be ready for Halloween-y October pickers, along with all its usual seasonal activities!
- Lotmead Farm, Wanborough, Swindon was established in 1983 and is a popular family-run PYO that, thanks to considerable year-on-year investment, has also developed a fruit-themed play area with structures that provide physical challenges to pre-teenage children with walkways, platforms and climbing frames. As well as offering, the PYO experience for visitors to gather seasonal fruit and vegetables, Lotmead also has enclosures that allow children to get up close to a selection of animals, including pygmy goats, alpacas, pigs, chickens and guinea pigs. Visitors can take the one-kilometre walk along the nature trail which leads to a small lake, bird hide and sanctuary. The PYO also has a farm shop and café. Visitors can also enjoy picking pumpkins in the period leading up to Halloween and choose their favourite Christmas trees in December.
Chairman of the Farm Retail Association, Rob Copley said: “The quality of the entrants is extremely high and this will be a tough category to judge. This shows the calibre of our PYO businesses in the UK and each finalist should be very proud. We look forward to seeing entrants from all the categories now, and celebrating the very best in the business at our awards ceremony next March. Good luck to all our finalists!”
The other finalists will be announced at the end of the year, and farm retailers still have time to enter. The closing date for the other categories is 24th September 2021.
From the ‘Rising Star Award’ which celebrates new Farm Shops or Farmers Markets; to the Lifetime Achievement Award, the awards celebrate the very best of the industry.
Other categories include: Large Farm Shop of the Year (turnover over £1.5m); Small Farm Shop of the Year (turnover under £1.5m); Farmers’ Market of the Year; Farm Café/Restaurant of the Year; Trade Supplier Member of the Year.
Finalists will be showcased at an Awards Gala Dinner held in March on a date and venue to be announced.
All members of the Farm Retail Association are eligible to enter the awards free of charge. Go to www.farmretail.co.uk/farm-retail-awards-2022
To find out more about joining the Farm Retail Association, contact FRA Manager Jenny Rose on 01423 546214 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
- The FRA (formerly known as FARMA) was established 1979
- The FRA is the national body which represents farm shops, farmers markets and pick-your-own enterprises across the country
- Around 325 UK farm shops and farmers markets are already members of the FRA
- The FRA annual conference and awards will take place in March 2022 (full details to be announced)
Jenny Rose, FRA Manager: email@example.com Direct Line: 01423 546214
Ben Barnett, PR: firstname.lastname@example.org Direct Line: 01423 546230