Farming in the Second Half of the 20th Century
The Pick Your Own
In 1980, James Garson decided he would start a Pick Your Own, where people could come and pick their own soft fruit. This started on Lyme Hill.
It was so successful that it soon expanded. Lyme Hill became the site of strawberries and asparagus. (The sprew, the thin, late asparagus, is very good chopped up in salads. It tastes like fresh peas.) An orchard was planted in Forest Field because it was damper there and here they grew Golden Delicious apples, Cox’s, Bramleys, and Grenadiers. The plum varieties were Early Rivers, Marjorie Seedlings, Victorias, and damsons. Vegetables were grown in Sandfield and in two poly tunnels in Woodcock’s Close they grew cucumbers and peppers. The Hangers were given over to potatoes while Forest Farm had asparagus, cane and bush fruit.
They supplied Le Manoir au Quatr’ Saisons, Raymond Blanc’s famous restaurant, with early potatoes but not main crop and vegetables.
The main shop was in the barn at Forest Farm (what is now the Montessori school). Judy Johnson and Sue Bradford ran it between them. They had a tea shop in the balcony and eventually were selling so much they had to buy in extra. So as well as all kinds of fruit and vegetables, they also had cakes, apple pies, and Cottage Delight preserves.
A number of fir trees were planted by the reservoir behind Church Close for sale as Christmas trees. Some are still there grown rather too big for bringing indoors.
The PYO continued for about 15 years and was closed because the person employed by James Garson to run it proved considerably less competent and dedicated than the Bradfords. However, all was not lost. The EU provided a grant to grub up many of the trees and burn them!
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