Pick your own at Peterley Manor farm

Long Crendon’s Sally Dorling, who runs marketing foods and is also organising the Thame Food Festival, picks out weekly treats for our readers, see her latest extract here.

Peterley Manor Farm Shop, Nursery & Pick Your Own

“It’s a wonderful place,” someone was saying to their husband as I was loading my goodies into the car at Peterley Manor farm shop in Prestwood – and it really is. Open 8.30am to 5pm every day except Monday, you can pick your own raspberries, blackberries, plums, broad beans, peas, carrots, beetroot, spinach, broccoli and cabbages at prices to match the supermarkets.

The beautiful farm shop is packed out with their fruit and vegetables and the best in fresh local produce, including new potatoes, marrows and the wonderful ‘round’ courgettes. The shelves are full of the best from artisan food producers and familiar names to readers, including Just Biscuits, Chiltern Cold Pressed Oils, Tims Dairy, Chiltern Natural Foods, Copas relishes and Lacey’s milk & cream.

A single aphid

Peterley Manor Farm Shop is run by Roger and Jane Brill. There is a wonderful old sign above the tills that announces ‘E. Brill & Sons, Fruit Growers & Market Gardeners, Cox Lane, Maidenhead’ that is testament to the four generations of the family that started with Roger’s great grandfather in the late 1800s. Roger’s parents, who are in their 80s, are still involved in the business and, in theory, it is five generations of the Brills as their three daughters also help out when they can.

Pick your own has become less popular over recent years. Jane blames the availability of fresh fruit and vegetables year round in the supermarkets. “We also tend to live from week to week, rather than picking and freezing, and that has had an effect,” says Jane. “There is much more of an interest in food miles and local produce now, so hopefully pick your own will become popular again across the country.” While their produce is not organic, they only spray a crop sparingly to save it from disease. Jane said: “A single aphid in a supermarket lettuce can lead to the entire tray being rejected, at the supplier’s expense, so you can understand that their philosophy might be very different. It is important people realise that.”

Carrots and alpacas

There is also a community and educational role to the pick your own farm. “You should see the look on some of the children’s faces when you pull a carrot out the ground,” said Jane. “I don’t think they’ve ever thought where one comes from. It’s lovely.”

So why not join the trend of picking or buying your own fresh fruit and vegetables at a farm shop and keeping the big stores for the cleaning products?

Did you know?

Courgettes will usually grow to about a metre in length and are, botanically, fruit.