There's something particularly British about heading out into the countryside in summer and plucking your own strawberries, raspberries and other fruits fresh from wherever they're grown. London itself isn't awash with pick your own fruit farms, but its surrounding counties are. Here, we're rounded up the best PYO farms close to the capital.
Check with each venue which produce is available (and if they're even open) before you travel, as seasons and crops vary every year. Due to the rural nature of these PYO farms, driving is the best way to get to most of them, rather than relying on rural public transport.
Oh, and don't be that person who eats the fruit while you pick it. The farm is someone's livelihood, and often they're independent, family-run businesses.
Where to pick your own fruit in London
Parkside Farm, Enfield
Which fruits? Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants.
There are only two genuine PYO farm we know of within London, one for north Londoners, the other for south. Parkside Farm is the northern offering, a half hour walk from Gordon Hill station, so is doable without a car. There's a minimum spend of £4 per person (including kids old enough to walk) on picked produce, so factor that in if you're going as a family. Vegetables are available too — see the crop calendar for a rough guide of what's being picked when.
Interestingly, many of the strawberries grown here are 'table-top strawberries', meaning they're grown using a system that produces the fruit roughly at head height — so no more doing your back in bending down to pick.
There's a small picnic area on the farm — although not within the fruit fields themselves — and the farm shop sells ice cream and cold drinks. Certain parts of the farm offer impressive views over the London skyline.
Hewitts Farm, Orpington
Which fruits? Strawberries, gooseberries, raspberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants, Also spinach, Swiss chard, peas, broad beans.
Just inside London's limits, Orpington's Hewitts Farm is a cash-only enterprise, so swing by an ATM before you pull up. It's a hand 15 minutes from Knockholt station, which makes it much closer to the station than Knockholt itself. No picnics are allowed on the farm itself, but a picnic and BBQ area is provided near the car park — just make sure you pay for your produce before tucking in.
Pick your own fruit farms in Surrey
Crockford Bridge Farm, Weybridge
Which fruits? Rhubarb, strawberries, gooseberries, raspberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, blackberries — and plenty of veg too.
Located within the M25, but technically within Surrey, Crockford Bridge Farm has featured on the likes of Made In Chelsea, The Apprentice and The One Show. It's very much open to visitors, with an ice cream parlour, tea shop and farm shop on site, as well as the PYO fields. Kids are very welcome, as the farm sees it as a way to help them understand where their food comes from.
Check the crop availability calendar for what to expect when.
Flower Farm Shop, Godstone
Which fruits? Strawberries, raspberries and blackberries.
A farm shop, butchers, tea room, brewery and PYO in one, Flower Farm is a one-stop shop for food and drink... including freshly brewed beer. But back to the fruit, which is usually available to pick between June and August — it's recommended that you ring before travelling to check availability.
Which fruits? Strawberries, raspberries, courgettes, peas
Garsons garden centre has two locations, one at Esher in Surrey, and another further afield at Titchfield in Hampshire. Esher is in the one to head to for PYO produce, with a farm shop and restaurant alongside the PYO fields. So vast is the farm that a map is provided to get you to the right patch for picking.
In addition to fruit and veg, the farm is home to flower fields, where sunflowers and dahlias can be picked at certain times of year.
In off season, there's no minimum spend, but be prepared that in peak season (end of June, July and August), there's a £4 minimum spend per adult, which is charged on entry and paid towards your total.
Secretts Farm, Milford
Which fruits? Asparagus, strawberries, rhubarb, Swiss chard.
Located between Guildford and Farnham, Secretts Farm is a 150 acre property with farm shop — and not just any farm shop. It sells crafts beers and gins and English wines along with the meat and veg, ideal for stocking up if your freshly-picked strawberries are destined for a summer picnic or barbecue.
Pick your own farms in West Sussex
New House Farm Shop, Horsham
Which fruits? Strawberries and raspberries.
New House Farm combines farm shop, tea room and in summer, a maize maze. Pluck your fresh strawberries and raspberries from the field, before tucking into well earned tea and cake inside a 16th century barn.
Roundstone Farm, Worthing
Which fruits? Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, tayberries (yeah, we had to look that one up too), loganberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, plums, Victoria plums, rhubarb, and plenty of vegetables too.
If a trip to the seaside is in order, make a day of it by dropping into Roundstone Farm, located not too far from Worthing. This page shows which of the extensive collection of crops is currently available for picking — the farm claims to have the biggest selection of PYO crops in the south of England, and who are we to argue? A tractor-train service operates around the farm, dropping people off at whichever fruit they're after, and ice creams and cold drinks are for sale in the car park.
Spring Gardens Nursery, Pulborough
Which fruits? Strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, cherries, blackberries, cherries, loganberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, plums. Also vegetables including asparagus, carrots, sweetcorn and more.
Teetering on the edge of the South Downs, you're definitely not in London anymore by the time you get to Spring Gardens Nursery. Take a look at the crop chart to find out what should be ready to pick when, and plan your visit accordingly. After a morning in the 35 acres of fields, refresh in the on-site cafe and browse the farm shop before heading home... or on to the coast.
Pick your own farms in East Sussex
Maynards Fruit, Ticehurst
Which fruits? Strawberries, blackcurrants, plums
Located midway between Tunbridge Wells in Kent and Hastings on the East Sussex coast, Maynards may be a small, family run business, but it grows enough fruit to supply supermarkets with plums — and the makers of Ribena with blackcurrants.
Oast Farm, Buxted
Which fruits? Gooseberries, apples, pears, plums. Cherries and blueberries are also grown but not available for PYO.
This family-run fruit farm, shop and cafe is best-known for its apples, many of which are pressed on the farm itself immediately after picking. No need to wait until the autumn apple harvest though — other fruits are available earlier than that (check website for details and timings). Note that there's a minimum charge of £3 per person (including children) on picked fruit — pay on your way in, and the £3 is deducted from your bill.
The cafe serves up breakfast, lunch, cakes and drinks, and local produce including meat, cheese, fruit and veg is for sale in the farm shop.
Sharnfold Farm, Eastbourne
Which fruits? Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, redcurrants, rhubarb, and plenty more.
Just a couple of miles inland from Eastbourne and Pevensey, Sharnfold Farm welcomes visitors to pick their own fruit, including the bounty of the 10,000 strawberry plants. Children are very welcome, and there's a farm shop on site to browse too.
Pick your own fruit farms in Kent
Downingbury Farm, Tunbridge Wells
Which fruits? Strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants, plums.
One of the best known PYO farms in the Garden of England, Downingbury is very handily located close to the A21, making it an easy day trip from London. A cafe has recently been added to the farm, with drinks, cake and ice cream available, as well as a plethora of other produce from the farm shop.
Foxendown Farm, Meopham
Which fruits? Strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, currants, plums, apples, pears.
PYO fruit is available on the Foxendown Farm (aka Broomfield Farm) area of Meopham Fruit, not far from Gravesend and Dartford.
Stanhill Farm, Dartford
Which fruits? Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, redcurrants and blackcurrants, plus pumpkins, tomatoes, sweetcorn, runner beans and more.
Easy picking is promised for strawberry lovers at Stanhill Farm, which has many, many fruit-bearing plants. There's no cafe on-site, but there is a small hut selling drinks and ice creams, and you can eat a picnic on the tables provided.
Pick your own fruit farms in Essex
Lathcoats Farm, Chelmsford
Which fruits? Strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, cherries, plums, blackberries, boysenberries.
Ramble round the fields picking your fruit at Lathcoats Farm before tucking into coffee and cake at the excellently-named Bee Shed Coffee House next door, located in a barn that used to be utilised for beekeeping. Say hello to the goats, pigs and donkeys next door before you leave.
McLauchlans of Boxted, Colchester
Which fruits? Strawberries, gooseberries, redcurrants, raspberries, blackcurrants and broad beans.
Head straight to the farm shop when you pull up at McLauchlans of Boxted, and staff will point you in the direction of whichever fields are currently most, er, fruitful. Head out to the plants and get stuck in — and stock up on locally produced cream from the farm shop before you leave.
Pick your own fruit farms in Hertfordshire
Cammas Hall, near Bishop's Stortford
Which fruits? Strawberries, gooseberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, blackcurrants, plus sweetcorn and pumpkins.
The good news for strawberry lovers is that the red fruits are grown under cover at Cammas Hall, meaning that even if it's raining when you go picking, you and your bounty will stay dry. However, with a maize maze, nature trail, play area, tea barn and farm shop on site, you'd do well to wait until the sun appears and make a whole day out of it.
Graveley Fruit Farm, near Hitchin
Which fruits? Strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants.
A cafe, adventure play area, zip wire, tractor and trailer rides, and pigs to feed are some of the attractions at family-friendly Graveley — and that's before you get down to the important business of fruit picking. Strawberries are the main crop, and they're grown at waist height, making them easy to pick.
Psst... if you're at Graveley, you're not too far from Hitchin Lavender, home to those famous purple fields in June and July, and gorgeous yellow sunflowers in August and September — why not make a day of it?
Hawkswick Lodge Farm, St Albans
Which fruits? Strawberries, raspberries, red currants, blackcurrants, blackberries and gooseberries.
As one of the smaller farms on this list, Hawkswick Lodge is all about the fruit. Check the fruit calendar on the website to predict what will be available when, but do check before you go as stocks can sometimes run low. Pensioners get a 20% discount on Tuesday afternoons.
Pearce's Farm Shop, Buntingford
Which fruits? Strawberries and raspberries
Several different varieties of strawberry are grown at Pearce's, and the farm uses a special rainwater harvesting system which apparently makes for a tastier crop. Groceries, plants, gifts and deli foods are available in the shop, and the cafe serves light food, drinks and afternoon tea.
Pick your own farms in Berkshire
Cobbs Farm Shop, Hungerford
Which fruits? Strawberries, raspberries
There's been a fruit farm on the site of Cobbs since the 1970s, and it's grown to be quite an entity, with a farm shop, cafe, vineyard and even occasional open air cinema screenings on the site today. We'd recommend stopping by the cafe when you've worked up an appetite — it's more of a full-blown restaurant, even serving roasts on Sundays.
The fields were closed at the end of the picking season by the end of July in 2018, so as with all venues on this list, head there earlier in the season to avoid a fruitless journey.
Grays Farm, Wokingham
Which fruits? Strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb, gooseberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants, plus plenty of veg including spinach, and broad beans.
An impressive five miles of strawberries were planted on Grays Farm over the winter, so fingers crossed for a bumper crop this year. The crop calendar gives an idea of when they should be ready for picking, and the farm offers play areas, a farm trail and picnic spots for families to make a day of it.