6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Cotswold Life today click here

Guy Warner: Strawberry fields forever

PUBLISHED: 14:02 14 May 2018 | UPDATED: 14:03 14 May 2018

Strawberries (c) Dino

Strawberries (c) Dino


When it comes to strawberries, it pays to pick your own...

The first day in May has traditionally heralded the start of the British strawberry season. This used to be an exciting, long-awaited moment – strawberries were a truly seasonal fruit and well worth the wait for the promise of that intense flavour and sweet juiciness.

Today I think we’ve lost some of that magic – strawberries are on our shelves all year round, mainly imported from Morocco and Spain, but even our British strawberries can have up to ten months’ shelf life, thanks to the use of polytunnels and other innovations in growing techniques. Indeed, despite March’s cold snap, the first strawberry of 2018 was a record-breaker, appearing on shelves in South Wales on February 22.

But are we any better off for this abundance of strawberries? I’d say not. You don’t have to be a food expert to realise that these year-round strawberries may look good but they really don’t taste the same as those long-anticipated, sun-soaked strawberries of summer.

The thing about strawberries is that they need the full force of the sun to do its work, to inject their soft flesh with life and flavour. And that means being patient – something us Brits aren’t very good at when it comes to our food.

That’s why I prefer to stick with that old tried and tested method of Pick Your Own. There’s no cheating when it comes to PYO – as soon as the fruit is naturally ripened in the sun, the fields open (usually around mid May or early June, depending on the weather) and it’s every man, woman and child for himself. It used to be a rite of passage in the Warner household to see how many ‘freebies’ you could snaffle as you picked your way through strawberry fields every summer!

It really is the best way to enjoy strawberries at their freshest. But if you’re haunted by memories of toiling on your hands and knees under the glaring sun, don’t be. Today’s PYO farms are much more user-friendly – many have raised beds so no more backbreaking bending and many have become destinations in their own rights with onsite farm shops, cafés, play areas and even campsites.

If you haven’t indulged in a spot of PYO in recent years, I urge you to do so this year. We are blessed with a number of farms locally that offer PYO, not only of strawberries, but many soft fruit including raspberries, gooseberries and redcurrants. Take the family, make a day of it and enjoy some truly seasonal fruit at its very best.

Where to PYO in the Cotswolds:

Hayles Fruit Farm: Martin Harrell and his family have farmed on this 100-acre farm, based near Winchcombe, since the 1950s. It is one of four fruit farms in the area that dates back to 1880. PYO usually takes place in June and July but you are advised to call beforehand. There is an onsite farm shop, selling home-pressed apple juice and other goods, a café, campsite and nature trail. Hayles Fruit Farm is just minutes away from the Warner’s Budgens Broadway store – during strawberry season, you can find Hayles strawberries freshly picked from the fields on all Warner’s Budgens stores’ shelves – the next best thing if you can’t quite find the time for PYO this year!

Primrose Vale: on the outskirts of Cheltenham, this popular PYO offers 15 different crops for picking in the summer months. The first of these is the strawberry season which usually begins in late May and continues until the end of September. The strawberries are grown in raised platforms to make them easier to pick and you can bring your own containers. There is an onsite farm shop, café and children’s play area too.

Over Farm: Matt and Reese Keene have created a family-friendly farm experience just a mile from Gloucester City centre. Strawberry PYO opens in early summer, with strawberries conveniently panted on tabletops to save your back. Dogs are allowed in the fields on leads and if you reuse your Over Farm container, you get a discount on your next pick. There is a well-stocked farm shop, lots of friendly animals to visit and a new farm trail for the children.

Locally-owned company Warner’s Budgens have six stores in the area - Bidford-upon-Avon, Moreton-in-Marsh, Quedgeley, Tewkesbury and Winchcombe. Visit the website here.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Cotswold Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Cotswold Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Cotswold Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Food & Drink

Yesterday, 10:07

Cheltenham’s Street Chilli Fiesta will return to Cambray Place on Saturday June 2 from 10am, bringing more than 15 chilli produce specialists to town

Read more
Wed, 16:44

Deborah Thompson talks us through the distinctive qualities of wine produced right here on our doorstep

Read more
Mon, 18:16

In such a beautiful setting, there’s no excuse to stay inside when it comes to summer in the Cotswolds. After a trip out, or perhaps a leisurely ramble in the countryside, there’s nothing like enjoying drinks and dinner al fresco at one of the region’s charming pubs. We pick 30 of the best beer gardens

Read more
Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Made by Bob has picked up two national awards, Bistro of the Year and Most Family Friendly Restaurant

Read more
Monday, May 14, 2018

When it comes to strawberries, it pays to pick your own...

Read more
Tuesday, May 8, 2018

It’s the weekend, the sun is shining and the pub is calling your name, but where is the best place to go? Fortunately for you we’ve picked twelve of the best pubs with beer gardens in Cheltenham. Enjoy, you deserve it!

Read more
Tuesday, May 8, 2018

We are delighted to announce our 2018 finalists. We look forward to seeing you all at the awards ceremony at the Cheltenham Racecourse on Monday July 2

Read more
Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Cotswold Life Food & Drink Awards is undoubtedly one of the biggest events in the Cotswold calendar and this year we’ll be celebrating our 16th anniversary

Read more
Tuesday, May 1, 2018

With the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials just around the corner, local hostelries will be gearing up to welcome visitors from all over the world

Read more
Thursday, April 26, 2018

Their aim is to provide the world with an authentic coffee experience through innovative single origin coffee products

Read more
Monday, April 23, 2018

Mannan Abdul of the Indian Brasserie in Cheltenham tells us about his gluten-free menu

Read more
Thursday, April 12, 2018

There are many beautiful spots in and around the Cotswolds to lay your blanket down and enjoy a good old fashioned picnic! Here are 13 of the best…

Read more
Thursday, April 12, 2018

As recorded in the Domesday book, there has been a mill at Long Newnton for over 900 years

Read more
Tuesday, March 20, 2018

According to many, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. This may be true, but, thanks to Carluccio’s there is now such a thing as a free breakfast, as long as you wear a certain item of clothing

Read more
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory
A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Cotswold's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area

Property Search