Abbie Bennington: 'Pick your own takes me back to childhood'By Abbie Bennington
July 17, 2012
Online columnist Abbie Bennington writes food and lifestyle features for getwokingham. She went to find out more about Pick Your Own at Gray’s Farm
Can there be any finer English summer pastime than wandering through fields of fresh, ripe, sweet, juicy strawberries?
Pick your own, or PYO, is an old-fashioned pursuit which evokes nostalgic thoughts and a sense of excitement.
So it was with great pleasure that I stumbled upon Gray’s PYO in Heathlands Road, Wokingham.
The case so often with strawberries bought in supermarkets is the little red jewel-like berries deliver much on appearance and little on flavour.
PYO and home-grown strawberries are, for me, the best you can get. So sweet, delicious and juicy, they are everything a summer fruit should be.
I remember what seemed like hours picking the little scarlet berries as a child, one for me, one for the basket, my hands a little sticky, and feeling over-full by the end of it.
I had high expectations when I drove to Gray’s Farm, not just because of the hope that the strawberries would be every bit as good as I remembered as a child, but also to try all the other types of produce they specialise in.
On one of the rare days of sunshine we have had this year, I arrived mid-week to a bustling farm.
The farm shop itself was abundant with fresh produce brought in from the fields – large boxes filled with spinach, broad beans, cabbage, new potatoes, marrows and courgettes.
As for fruit, if you don’t feel like braving the fields, there were strawberries, raspberries and gooseberries already picked and ready for you to take home.
So, armed with my punnet, I was directed to the rows and off I went in search of the strawberries I remembered tasting as a child.
These days of course far more strawberries make the basket, but I did allow myself one or two and they didn’t disappoint – firm to the touch, sweet and juicy.
I resisted tasting any more, and collected my hoard before returning to the farm shop where I found broad beans, spinach and assorted brassicas.
I could have gone and foraged for these too, perhaps another time, but on this occasion I let the farm do the hard work and picked the best they had to offer.
My back seat was resplendent as I headed home, thinking of what to make with my freshly-foraged veg.
A broad bean bruschetta topped with smoked goat’s cheese beckoned.
As for the strawberries, why mess with perfection? I just lightly washed them, hulled them and served them with a little whipped cream – no sugar needed and just as delicious as I had hoped.
What a pleasant way to spend a dry afternoon in Wokingham and, once again, I have been thrilled by all the area has to offer.