Now that summer is officially here (I think!), I wanted us to try out strawberry picking. It was something I always wanted to do as a child but never did. It is also one of the few foodie activities we can do as a family – other than dining out – with Mr. Canny. If you think about it, we’re hardly going book on a sausage making course now! As it transpired, the Teen was at school when we made the trip up to Brocksbushes Farm, anticipating that sunny weekends would probably see an influx of people also wanting to do the same so we tried to avoid the rush.
Located a few miles along the A69, Brocksbushes has a great little farm shop and tea room. Their Pick Your Own Strawberries fields have been open since the 18th of June. I don’t need to explain the premise as its pretty self-explanatory. You pay £1 each entry and there’s a refundable deposit for the hiring of your basket. We weren’t warned about any restrictions on time, but if the weather turns like it did while we were picking you might not want to stay out in the field long. We visited through the week, so rules may be different on a busy weekend. You’re not allowed to eat the fruit before you’ve paid for it, contrary to popular opinion. Baskets are provided for you to deposit your strawberries in to take home, which is then weighed at the tills in the shop. You are charged per kilogram for the fruit you’ve picked.
We had a drink in the cafe first before heading out into the field. Mr. Canny is happy to report they have soy milk so he enjoyed a Latte, while I chose a Hot Chocolate. Every day there are specials in the Tea Room. On a Tuesday you can enjoy Tea or Coffee with one of their homemade scones for just £3.50, as an example. I’m always impressed by the cakes and scones they have for sale, although I usually opt for one of the pies available at the Farm Shop to take home instead.
The weather was changeable on the day we visited, which meant the fields were on the muddy side. If you take children along and there’s been rain in the last few days it might be worth taking wellies as I know how children love to plodge. I blame Peppa Pig! My Converse were also a bit worse for wear afterwards, but nothing a clean couldn’t solve.
It was great fun picking the biggest and juiciest berries. There were plenty ready to pick now, even though it’s the start of the season. You are given an area to pick in, and we walked up and down looking for the best fruits. We didn’t go overboard as we’re very conscious about waste, although I’m sure Mr. Canny would have been happy with Strawberry Smoothies over the upcoming weeks if there was a glut. Strawberries can be frozen, but I personally prefer using them when they’re fresh and in season.
We also took the opportunity to pick up some groceries from the Farm Shop afterwards as there’s always lots of interesting food stuffs in stores like this. Brocksbushes stock local producers like North Chocolates and bottle of beer from Wylam Brewery, which is good to see. We bought yellow courgettes and mung beans, which you rarely see in supermarkets, along with some other bits and pieces. In an ideal world we would love to shop like this all the time, but with busy lives it isn’t always possible. The staff are such a friendly bunch too, and naturally Dinky was fussed over while we were there.
During the school holidays strawberry picking would be a great activity to keep the kids entertained if you’re stuck for something to do. It also allows children to see how fruits and vegetables are grown and farmed, which we think is important. Buying from supermarkets has meant we’ve lost our connection to the natural world around us and children often don’t know how their food is produced. The fresh air and walking is sure to tire them out and, if that doesn’t work, there’s always the children’s play area to finish them off. The strawberries were so much sweeter than the ones I’ve encountered. No need to cover them in sugar and cream! I ate mine with a drizzle of Wildon Grange’s Blueberry Balsamic. Buying strawberries like this is may be more expensive than in the supermarket, but picking a pack of the shelf isn’t nearly as much fun.
Thanks for reading,
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