We have been growing fruit and vegetable crops for Pick Your Own for well over 30 years now, and seek to care for the farming environment in a sustainable way. We try to produce high quality crops utilising modern farming techniques, but working hand in hand with nature. Strenuous efforts are made to minimise pesticide applications by using regular expert agronomic advice from ADAS. Fruit and vegetables are regularly sampled and tested for safety by the Trading Standards Office, and have always proved entirely safe.
Natural Control Methods
1) Pests; Biological methods are extensively used for pest control, and are the preferred choice, with natural predators being used especially in strawberries and raspberries. Pheromone traps are also used to attract and monitor moth/other pest populations, reducing the need to apply controls.
2) Weeds; On “Table-Top” Strawberries and Tomatoes we use a layer of bark mulch which (together with hand weeding) eliminates the need for herbicides. We also extensively use mechanical weed control methods on vegetable crops which greatly reduces the need for herbicides. This also helps to aerate the soil.
Fruit Crops and orchards all have grass alleyways which act as beetle banks and insect corridors, allowing insects to pass between crops. We have also planted several windbreaks and maintain hedges in such a way as to encourage wildlife.
Parkside Farm`s bird population is monitored by keen ornithologists who have recorded sightings of over 130 species of birds, some of which are extremely rare.
Regular soil analysis allows the correction of soil deficiencies accurately and without waste. Water usage has reduced dramatically in recent years, due to the more extensive use of trickle irrigation on virtually all fruit crops. This is a system of small pipes which place the water close to the plant roots. Moisture levels are regularly checked to avoid excessive run-off.
We grow our “table-top” strawberries and most of our raspberries and blackberries, in peat, or also more recently coir, which is derived from coconut fibre, and therefore renewable. When these substrates are replaced, they are always taken to a storage area, and then spread onto our own fields. They never go to landfill!
Many thousands of customers come to Parkside every year and enjoy the benefit of picking and eating fresh fruit and vegetables, which leads to a reduction in food miles. It also gives healthy exercise in the fresh air, together with some educational benefits.