Our family have been farming at Parkside Farm since 1938, when it was a mixed dairy and arable farm. We still have some arable land (i.e. wheat/beans/oilseed rape) and grassland, but sold our 140 dairy cows in 2002.
Our family have been farming at Parkside Farm since 1938, when it was a mixed dairy and arable farm.
We first grew strawberries for Pick-Your-Own back in 1979 on a fairly limited scale (i.e. 4 acres), but have subsequently added many other fruit and vegetable crops. The total PYO area is now close to 50 acres with about 20 different crops grown!
A crucial element to growing these crops is access to water for irrigation. We built our own reservoir in 1983, together with an extensive network of underground mains. We subsequently added more complex drip irrigation systems, which can be controlled from the farm.
Over the years our fruit and vegetable crops have also benefited from the generous use of farmyard manure (courtesy of own cows in the past and now our neighbour`s cattle), which greatly helps soil fertility, and ultimately the quality of our produce.
In recent years we have invested very heavily into producing strawberries on a “Table-Top System”, which means you can pick without bending down! The plants are grown in troughs filled with peat, supported by a steel structure, and crop for 1/2 years. When the plants are finished, the troughs are emptied out onto our fields and incorporated into the soil. All of our strawberry production is now on this system. We also utilise different varieties and techniques to spread the harvest.
We now have areas of “Potted Raspberries” and “Potted Blackberries” which we grow in coir (coconut fibres) or peat, and replant on a 1/2 year cycle using special long cane material. This helps to give a much better spread of harvest and alleviate the soil-borne disease problems we have had in the past.