5 PYO farms open now in Dorset
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Pick your own farms across the UK are re-opening - here are just a few spots in Dorset where you can get outdoors and pick your own bounty of summer fruits.
The glorious summer berry season is now in full swing, and with lockdown restrictions easing across the UK we can think of no better activity than venturing into the great outdoors to for a spot of fruit picking.
Here are a few things to bear in mind:
1. Always call ahead – PYO farms change their opening times/days frequently depending on growing conditions.
2. Respect the social distancing measures put in place – it’s worth taking hand sanitiser and a face mask with you.
3. Only touch the fruits you want to pick out of respect for others.
Sopley Farm, Christchurch
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Perched at the edge of the New Forest, this farm shop has been offering delivery during lockdown but is now open for the pick your own season, beginning with strawberries before moving on to gooseberries, raspberries, tayberries, currants, blackberries, plums, runner beans and pumpkins.
Only a few customers will be allowed to pick at any time, and they must sanitise their hands first, avoiding touching produce they don’t intend to buy.
The toilets and play area remain closed.
Try to avoid busier times (weekends and very sunny days) - the farm says picking of strawberries will continue until September, so there’s no rush.
Trehane Nursery, Wimborne
Brothers Josh and Dan operate the blueberry farm at family-run Trehane, where all their berries are certified organic.
They’re currently pre-booking slots online at www.trehaneblueberrypyo.co.uk from July 6, with customers paying before arrival. It’s £9 for one hour up to £18 for 2.5 hours per household. They estimate within an hour you could pick 2-3kg of fruit.
A sanitising station will be set up and all participants must use hand sanitiser before picking.
Forde Abbey, Chard
Make a day of it by pre-booking to visit the glorious Forde Abbey gardens before or after you indulge in a bit of fruit picking.
The PYO farm is open daily from 9.30am to 6pm depending on weather, and you’ll need to bring your own containers.
This one is ideal for people with mobility issues as fruit is grown at table height – no bending over.
As you navigate the site be aware of the social distancing rules, and note there may be periods of waiting if the farm gets very busy.
Fruit available begins with strawberries, moving into jostaberries, tayberries and currants.
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Lenctenbury Farm, Wareham
Good procedures have been put in place here to ensure the safety of all visitors. Open from 10am to 5pm, they are only allowing groups of up to five people in together – who must stay with one another, maintaining the 2m rule between households. A maximum of 20 groups will be allowed into the field at any time, with a one-group-out, one-group-in policy.
Collect your tubs at the barn and away you go.
Strawberries are available now until early October, followed from July onwards by raspberries, blueberries, currants, tayberries, loganberries and blackberries. They also grow PYO broad beans, mange tout, fine beans and runner beans.
Blagdon Fruit Farm, Coldharbour near Weymouth
A simple but lovely spot, open for PYO gooseberries and strawberries as long as stocks last, from 10am to 4pm Tuesday to Sunday.
They’re asking visitors to wear face masks in the tunnels and respect the 2m distancing, and while they accept contactless, the team prefer cash.
If all that picking leaves you famished, you can pick up take away cream teas, cakes and ice creams during visit, however picnics are not allowed on the premises at this time.
Toilet facilities remain closed.
What to do with your strawberries
1. Give them a wash and eat them straight from the punnet – the warmth of the sun brings out their natural sweetness.
2. Hull and halve 450g strawberries. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with 2tbsps good quality balsamic vinegar and 2tbsps golden caster sugar. Leave for 30 minutes and serve. This is an especially good way of perking up slightly underripe berries.
3. Hull and halve berries and poach them gently in a little elderflower cordial with a twist of fresh lemon until just soft. Serve over a simple vanilla sponge with a dollop of cream.
4. Hull and halve berries (at least 250g) and combine in a food processor with an equal amount of strawberry yoghurt. Pour into ice lolly moulds and freeze.
5. Freeze the berries on a tray (so they’re not touching) and serve with a hot white chocolate sauce, made by melting equal quantities of white chocolate and double cream. Elevate the pud by infusing the sauce by infusing with a little fresh basil, tarragon, lavender or rosemary.