How lockdown has created a PYO surge and teen pickers have stepped up to the plate
- Credit: Archant
There are rich pickings to be had in the fruit farms across Norfolk.
The sunniest May on record has produced a bumper crop of sweet strawberries, and restless families eager for a trip out are flocking to the fields.
Emma Tacon of The Tacon’s farm in Rollesby said the coronavirus lockdown had transformed the way people thought about food and shopped for it.
Now that consumers had time on their hands they wanted to shop locally and find their village butcher or baker when normally they were just too busy, she said.
And lockdown easing had come just in time for the Pick Your Own season allowing people to travel in cars and enjoy outdoor activities at a safe distance with so much else off limits.
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Picking every other row made a natural 2m distance and people didn’t tend to pick on top of each other as a matter of common courtesy, she said.
“It is just lovely that people can come and do something outside in the fresh air,” she said.
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“The other thing is the fact that most of the entertainment is closed.
“It all comes down to time.
“People want to shop locally and be close to their food source, and suddenly they can.”
Although they had been very busy the PYO field and car park were large enough not to be impact on social distancing and people were being encouraged to sanitise their hands.
The farm had also put in a permissive pathway so people could walk from the village to the fields without going on the road.
Meawhile, the farm has employed ten local teenagers who would normally be at college to pick and plant for them.
Whereas the work would normally be carried out by Eastern Europeans Mrs Tacon said there was a glut of youngsters willing to work and they had all been turning up everyday since the beginning of lockdown, first for the asparagus and now for the fruit.
The Kings Arms at Ludham has provided a catering van at the field so people can make “more of a day of it”
Mrs Tacon added that this year’s maiden crop of berries were super large and extra sweet because of all the sunshine, the combination of the weather, everything else being closed, and a rediscovering of locally produced foods making it extra popular this year.
Strawberry season runs until the middle of July.