Last year we picked our own pumpkins for the first time and I think a new family tradition was born. Beluncle Farm in Hoo (Kent), have been running the PYO pumpkin concept for five years and it seems to be going from strength to strength. Granted, last year was our first but the growth in just a year seems amazing. Everyone I know now seems to be talking about it, whereas before I’d never heard mention of it. Last year there were a few small problems with payments and the pumpkins ran out quite early. This year the organisation of the event had been impressively improved. There were stacks of pumpkins and the payment process was really slick (cash or card in the middle of the field). Aside from the obvious fun of traipsing through a muddy field, there were also some other fun bits and bobs. Like picking your own sweetcorn straight off the plant. The children actually had no idea what was inside. They loved peeling back the papery sheaf and stringy threads to reveal the golden nuggets. There were also marrows available and an unbelievable variety of pumpkins. The spooky caravan was brilliant too. The children nearly burst my ear drums when we opened one of the drawers (I won’t say more in case you’ve not been yet). To give you an idea, our group of children were aged 3-5 and they absolutely loved it. Aside from the fresh air and muddy fields (wellies are compulsory), it is a brilliant way to talk to them about where our food comes from. Plenty of children have no idea about agriculture and truly believe vegetables come in perfect form, packaged in plastic from the super market. Personally, I absolutely love a misshapen vegetable. (Especially the crudely shaped ones that provide a little titter!)
I feel quite strongly that we should – where possible – try to support local business and eat local. Earlier this year we went to Shotford Hall Farm in Norfolk for an open day. This open day turned out to be Open Farm Sunday, a national event where for one Sunday every year, farmers open their gates and welcome the general public. This day is dedicated entirely to educating the general public about agriculture. This requires huge investment from all the contributors and a real desire to make the day a success, which for me it absolutely was. It was easily one of our best family days out this year.