Winning tip: Punnet paradise near Edinburgh
On a bike tour of Scotland last year, the enticing aroma of fragrant strawberry fields up a hill made me stop pedaling and follow my nose. It was an excellent decision. The well-signposted Craigie’s Farm on South Queensferry, near Edinburgh, called me to a variety of fruit to support my cycling. I stuffed myself with raspberries and cherries and took veggies to camp later too. There’s also a lovely farm shop and small cafe where I sat sipping tea, contemplating which of my choices to eat first – almost reluctant to get back in the saddle.
Greenhouse Feast, West Sussex
Oh, for the Spring Gardens Nursery in Pulborough, West Sussex, you must go! Close to the South Downs, this gem of a place is small enough to enjoy with young children, but big enough to offer a fantastic list of seasonal fruits, vegetables and flowers to choose from (free entry, pay what you choose). The farm shop and cafe sell and serve delicious food and drinks, and the newly opened fairy-lit Gooseberry House is home to sold-out dining clubs with Sussex wines and sparkling wines. It’s one of my favorite places to go.
Veg Out, North Yorkshire
The Balloon Tree farm in Gate Helmsley, east of York, is the best place I know of for PYO. It has a huge variety of fruits and vegetables, acres of strawberries, blueberries and raspberries, currants, black currants, currants and peas. The highlight of autumn is the pumpkin picking, complete with wheelbarrows and scarecrows. The farm produces many other products that can be purchased at the farm shop and has a fabulous cafe serving homemade meals and cakes to tempt you even further.
Sunflowers for Ukraine, Wiltshire
Amidst the beautiful Wiltshire Downs, The Farm at Avebury is selling its sunflowers with the proceeds going to a combination of local schools, preschools and Ukraine’s Crisis Appeal. The kids loved getting lost among the huge stems and the parents took the happiest photos for the family album. The farm’s next charity will pick their own sunflower morning on August 6th.
Play gooseberry, Shropshire
Related: 10 glorious UK garden costumes to visit this summer
The charming, family-run Woore Fruit Farm at the nexus of Shropshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire has fruit to be picked from currants in spring to strawberries, raspberries, raspberries, currants and later, pumpkins for Halloween. Relax over a cup of tea at the cafe, which also has local Snugburys ice cream. The shop sells delicious wildflowers harvested on the farm along with eggs from their free-range chickens. Perfect for a summer day.
Best vintage, North London
Parkside Pick Your Own Farm near Enfield is great for picking mouthwatering strawberries, blackberries and raspberries. There is also a good variety of vegetables: sweet corn, zucchini and French beans. Book online for £4 per head and redeem the price against your chosen vegetables and fruits.
Let them eat cake, Northamptonshire
Grange Farm Harpole is a family business with a small cafe selling homemade cakes, ice cream, tea and coffee. It also has an excellent corn maze and some very friendly pigs. The fruit is tasty and juicy, and the farm is in a beautiful location.
Dahlia Fantasia, Surrey
At Garson’s farm in Esher, the bountiful and sumptuous strawberries and raspberries are favorites, but you can also pick sweet corn, carrots, zucchinis, beets, apples, cherries and plums. There are also flowers to choose from – sunflowers and dahlias aplenty. Tickets cost £4 to enter the farm, which is refunded at the price of your product. If all that wears you out, there’s a lovely cafe to rejuvenate and a fantastic garden center to explore.
Tips from Guardian Travel readers
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Strawberries Forever, West Devon
Just on the Devon-Cornwall border, just off the A30, you’ll find Strawberry Fields, Lifton. There’s plenty here to keep families entertained year-round, with strawberries and sunflowers in the summer, pumpkins in the fall, and Christmas trees. It has excellent afternoon teas, Cornish pastries and a great shop and restaurant. You can also challenge the family to the corn maze on the way to Cornwall. Lucky for me I live close by.
Weigh to go, near Liverpool
Claremont Farm on the Wirral, south of Birkenhead, is a special place, much more than a choice. In addition to raspberries, strawberries and pumpkins for Halloween, there’s an amusement park and bouncy castle to keep little ones entertained while you weigh your shipment. There are also pigs and sheep to meet. Every year there is a mini-festival with music and food. There is a lovely cafe with organic produce, a seafood stall and a forestry school teaching bushcraft. On some nights there are movie screenings.