Fruit picking is something that I’ve wanted to do for ages with Dexter and even more so now that we have Paisley. I remember going to a pick your own farm as a child and loving it – the beautiful rows and of fruit to run down and sneakily eating a strawberry while nobody was looking. I’ve always felt that it is important to teach children where food comes from, and encourage a healthy relationship with food to the point where I bought Dexter his first knife for helping in the kitchen when he was just a year old. Picking, and indeed even growing your own fruit and veg is a great way of showing where food comes from. I added it to my 100 Things list a while back and today we finally managed a trip to Hill Farm at Chesterton, just outside of Peterborough.
Hill Farm is a family run business open from June-October offering ‘pick-your-own’ (PYO) and ‘ready picked’ soft fruit and vegetables – ideal for freezing, jam and wine making, or just eating fresh. Set in attractive rural surroundings, on a hill overlooking Peterborough, the Farm also offers light refreshments and a playground.
It was quiet when we arrived so we were able to park right near the farm shop and playground and headed off for a little play first. The playground is really lovely with proper tyre swings like they used to make, you know, ones that are big enough to seat adult-sized bums in without the chains digging into your hips. There was a big rolled up rubber thing that you could climb inside and swing, a mountain of old tractor tyres to climb, monkey bars, slides and a photo board with cut out face holes.
I’m not entirely sure who had more fun playing, me or the kids but it certainly is an enjoyable park.
After a little play, we wandered over to the farm shop and asked about picking. The member of staff we spoke to was very knowledgeable, she told us what was available, where to find it and how to know if it was ready to pick. We decided on what we wanted and went off with our various tubs and bags for each product.
Our first stop was the courgettes. I’ve seen fried courgette flowers on many cooking programs and was tempted to get a couple of those too but settled for 3 nice looking courgettes that my niece, Demi, helped me pick. At this point, I did start filming a rather spontaneous (and not very well thought out) Facebook live video as we headed over to the raspberries.
The raspberries looked lovely in their long, neat rows. Dexter had a great time running up and down what he referred to as a maze. I’m not a fan of raspberries myself, but I have it on good authority that they were very delicious (my sister let Paisley eat one). Once mum had filled her tub, we headed round towards the squashes. I’ve only ever tried butternut squash before and would’ve picked one, had they been ripe but they weren’t quite ready so after wandering up and down and in and out of the different varieties, I decided I’d like to try the sweet lightening.
Back passed the raspberries and round towards the front of the farm, we headed around to what seemed to be the orchard section. The Victoria plums were so juicy and ripe. They were very easy to pick and came away from the branches easily. There was a wooded area nearby that was home to some bees, so all of the fruit and veg has it’s very own pollinators.
Our last stop was the sweetcorn. To get to these, we had to go past the pumpkin patch. I can’t wait to go back and pick our own pumpkin this year. They already looked amazing, with still another month to go before harvesting – and look at that view! Being on top of a hill means you can see for miles. It even made my mum start singing The Carpenters ‘On top of the world’ as we walked.
Today was the first day of picking for the sweetcorn so it was hard to find any that were ready but we found a couple each and that was all we needed, so after those, we headed back to the farm shop to pay. I’ll admit I was a bit nervous at how much it was going to come to.. It’s not like at the supermarket where you have everything labelled clearly and if it’s too much you can put it back, once you’ve picked it, you’ve got to buy it, but I was pleasantly surprised so I treated my self to a freshly picked sunflower too.
Hill Farm is open Tuesday to Sunday and bank holiday Mondays between June and October. They have toilets available including disabled facilities. In the shop, along with the fresh ready picked and ‘pick your own’ produce you can also purchase jams made from their own farm fruit, honey from their own bees, and flowers. They also stock some local brought in produce such as fresh farm meats (lamb and beef) delicious apple juice, oils and dressings, chutneys and marmalades and popcorn. Entry is free and coach parties are welcome with prior warning. The farm entrance is situated on Oundle Road, 300m west of the Alwalton/Chesterton A1 flyover.
We all had a lovely afternoon out and were very impressed with the friendliness of the staff. I’m glad I can cross this one off my 100 things list now too. Hill Farm is definitely MessyBlog approved.
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