Saturday, 3 July 2010

An unaffordable memory

How many of you remember Pick and Park/Pick Your Own from your childhood?  Who doesn’t recall eating more than you took home?  Well I suggest you hang on to those memories before they start fading.

It was a few years ago that I discovered our local Farm Shop.  I’ll allow myself to give them a name check – Calcott Farm Shop in Brentwood.  Over the last few years they seem to have been doing really well, enough to require, and be able to afford, extensions to the building and an increased product range.

For the last couple of years I’ve been recapturing my childhood by taking Hannah, and Ethan fruit picking at Calcott.  We’ve come home with delicious strawberries, the best raspberries in the world ever, gooseberries, blackcurrants and redcurrants.  Calcott call it Pick Your Own but the equivalent from my childhood was Pick and Park.  Pick and Park was literally just that in the seventies.  It’s grown gradually over the years and is now a massive development called Fermoys.  I’ve just checked their website and whilst there’s a mention of their Pick and Park beginnings there’s no mention of being able to pick your own fruit now.  I might know why.

I spoke to the staff at Calcott because, despite punnets galore in the shop, there were no strawberries being picked.  In fact picking anything wasn’t an option.

They’ve had to stop the general public picking their own fruit.  The reason given is a sad reflection on the nanny state in which we live.  Health and Safety seems to be the cause, or more precisely “People who can’t take responsibility for their own actions.”

If you pick fruit you may need to reach down low or stretch up high.  You are likely to be walking on uneven ground.    That’s what farms are like.  Calcott strawberry picking though was a breeze as over the last couple of years the plants were grown on beds at hip height.  It seems though that a few people have twisted ankles and claimed and complained.

Fear of insurance claims has prompted thoughts about paved walkways amongst the fruit but the cost is prohibitive.  In addition numbers of customers prepared to get their hands dirty, or at least stained with juice, have been declining.  All in all it just seemed too much like hard work for the owners, for the customers, for everyone.

1 comment:

The Ample Cook said...

Just what the hell is happening?

It's things like this that contribute to me being a grumply old woman.