I have such fond memories of my mum taking me to pick our own fruit at the local farm when I was little. Wandering through the strawberry fields, ‘sampling’ them as we’d go and coming home with the most delicious produce (call me crazy but it tastes better when you’ve picked it yourself). I haven’t been in years, but last weekend I thought i’d make the most of the last of the summer sun and head back to Hilltop.
I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to see that it hasn’t changed a bit! The little farm house still looks the same, the rickety wooden table and old fashioned till and the same sweet lady using long addition to work out my total (it may seem silly but this really made me smile – no iphone calculator!) The farm may only be 10 minutes from home but I felt like i’d travelled back in time.
Due to the changing season, and bad timing on my part, there wasn’t a huge range of fruit available. Sadly no strawberries, but we could get our hands on several varieties of cooking and eating apples, pears and a few blackberries! At other times they grow plums, blueberries, blackcurrants, raspberries and gooseberries too. The farm is only tiny but also has it’s own beehives and sells fresh honey and free range eggs.
On a side note, I’ve been told that eating local honey can prevent hayfever?! Don’t know if I believe it or not but i’m already planning to go back to the farm early next spring for some honey to test the theory – doesn’t get more local than this!
This time around I filled my bag with eating apples, cooking apples and a couple of pears, which all came to a grand total of… £5. Bargain. I may even have gone a little overboard to be honest, I’ve already made a crumble and have enough apples left to keep the doctor away for a month. I’m predicting a pie and maybe some toffee apples appearing in my house in the near future.
It may be a bit basic and old fashioned but there’s something about wandering through fields picking fruit that just feels good for the soul. So if you fancy a little wander, some fresh air and a nice snack that didn’t come from the supermarket, i’d really recommend Hilltop Farm. It’s open from 12-4pm every day apart from Mondays and Fridays and if you call 01268752734 you can hear what is currently available for picking.
Here’s the address: Hilltop Avenue, Benfleet, SS7 1PH
If you’ve been to any PYO farms that you’d recommend please let me know, i’d love to venture out to more and see what other fruits/ veg they have to offer.