A Strawberry Heaven
Last week we headed off to Nynehead fruit and met up with Jan Butterley. We brought Jan and the team up some chocolate brownies, but soon found out we hadn’t brought enough as Jan has over 40 pickers. We arrived at 11.00 and it was a scorcher- nearly 30 degrees and nobody around. Jan informed us that all the staff work in the morning and in the evening. During the day it is too hot in the tunnels. A great way of life is found around this farm; it’s relaxed and the “siesta” concept is something you’d usually associate with being abroad.
Above are some of the drills which aren’t covered during the heat wave, what a sight!
Jan has had the farm for over 30 years and decided to grow strawberries and raspberries purely out of demand. The setting is beautiful and so vast. The fields are old hectare sites split into 4 and have 1/4 mile drills running and being rotated. All the fields are surrounded with giant poplar trees and filled in with alders to break the wind, as in the spring and autumn the winds would damage the fragile plants.
Nynhead has many varieties of strawberries ranging from El Santa, Finesse to Portola. Raspberry types are Radiance and Glen Ample. All are picked daily- some re-fruit throughout the season and the early and later ones tend to fruit once, then have to be turned over. Jan buys in English bees for the pollination process and explained the reason: Badgers have very sweet teeth and usually sniff out the bee hives in the surrounding ditches and destroy the poor bees’ home – tut tut. They tried hanging the hives from the poles in the tunnels, but the bees aren’t awfully fond of the swaying motion, so the Bee boxes are more practical and ensure the pollination process occurs.
We headed for the packing room which is meticulously organized and one of the cleanest premises I’ve seen. It’s strange and such a stark contrast when both worlds combine- the natural outdoors to the packing room. I had my mind made up I wanted the outdoors, the natural life, then I realised it was nearing lunch service and had to stop dreaming and get back to the kitchen.