Young and coffee in varying degrees, Kat also says stuff @ThoroughlyMode
Published July 28th 2010
There's an easy, and entertaining way to get around the price hike that often accompanies eating fresh and local, and that's sourcing food yourself. This is not an advertisement for eating road kill, but for picking your own fruit, and at this time of year berries in particular.
One of the few fruits that the combined efforts of the UK's soil and weather conditions seem to be able to produce to perfection, berries are also easy to pick, not involving ladders etc., and there are lots of local farms that will give you a hefty discount if you make the effort to come and DIY. Of course what you can pick depends on the season, but here's a selection of local-to-London options and what they have bushes/ trees/ or other plants growing.
Calves Lane Farm (Bellswood Lane, Iver, Buckinghamshire SL0 0LU) has two outposts, one in near Cookham in Berkshire and this one near Iver. Between the two they have about 80 acres of strawberries, raspberries, red currants, blackberries and gooseberries, which they'll let you at for the starting price of £2.
Gray's Farm (Heathlands Road, Wokingham, Berkshire, RG40 3AN) grows strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, black currants, red currants, and though it's not a berry, it also has rhubarb. It's open between 9 and 6 every day but Sunday and you'll know when you get close because they have a giant strawberry out the front.
Peterley Manor Farm's (Prestwood, Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, HP16 0HH) season begins in early June when their strawberries and gooseberries ripen and continues on until their October apples (also not a berry), via raspberries, tayberries, black currants and cherries (also probably not technically berries).
Breach Farm (St Mary Bourne, Andover, Hampshire, SP11 6DQ) has one of the largest selections of berries around, including white currants, which no one else seems to have. As well as these rarities they also boast raspberries, red currants, strawberries, tayberries and gooseberries.
If you find the picking side of it's less fun than the eating side then you can always top up your haul at the farm shops that always accompany the pick-you-own set up. And if you're not sure how to get rid of your fruit 'cause you've had your five-a-day and don't know how to make your own preserves, you can always make a variation on Eton Mess, by throwing everything in with some cream and meringue and a bit of berry sauce.