Best places to go strawberry picking in Essex
By Helen Wright
I don’t know about you, as soon as I start spotting berries and fruit on the trees, I get excited because summer is almost here! Going strawberry picking in Essex is one of my favourite memories from childhood. I remember being so chuffed to have my own basket and being allowed to pick your own strawberries from the plants. I hugged the punnet the whole way home in the car, I was so proud.
As soon as he was old enough, I couldn’t wait to take my son, Finn, as I knew he would love it as much as I did. Family fruit picking in Essex is a great way to show children how fresh food grows (rather than coming ready-packed in Tesco) and is a sustainable way to support local farms and growers. Research has even shown that picking your own fruit helps fussy kids become more adventurous with trying different foods. Plus, picking strawberries is one of the most rewarding fruit hauls, because you can use them to make a range of delicious treats, including strawberry tarts, fresh fruit trifle, smoothies and, of course, afternoon tea. Many fruit farms in Essex have other activities on offer too – making it a great day out for the whole family.
The best places to go strawberry picking in Essex
70% of beautiful Essex is rural and the county is spoilt with lush countryside, woodland and farmland, making it the ideal place to go in search of pick-your-own vegetables and fruit. Plus, so much outdoor space means ample space for social distancing, so nowhere gets overcrowded, even at weekends. Many of the strawberry farms in Essex offer year-round PYO opportunities with different fruits including blackberries, raspberries, gooseberries, apples and vegetables such as asparagus and apples. Pick your own strawberry season in Essex is usually between May and August. We’ve rounded up the best places to go strawberry picking in Essex in 2021:
(Cover Image: Rob Bertholf)
The best places to go strawberry picking in Essex
Cammas Hall Fruit Farm, Hatfield Broad Oak
The most popular place to go strawberry picking Essex is at Cammas Hall Fruit Farm. As well as the delicious, juicy strawberries, everyone raves about the cakes at Cammas Hall Farm too. What can be better than a home-baked Victoria sponge, made with fresh strawberries grown right outside the door? The farm offers year-round fruit picking, including raspberries, gooseberries, cherries, blueberries, blackberries and blackcurrants, but strawberries are the main crop. During autumn, a pumpkin field is set up with trails to choose your own pumpkin for Halloween. If you’re a Beatles fan or have teenagers that love the ‘gram, the ‘strawberry fields forever‘ sign makes for a great Instagram opportunity!
Pick you own strawberries: £5.25 per kg. Closed on Mondays and Bank Holidays. Farm shop open year-round. cammashall.co.uk
Lathcoates Farm, Chelmsford – the most popular place to go strawberry picking in Essex
Strawberry picking at Lathcoats Farm has been a pastime in Chelmsford since the 1970s. This charming farm has long, well-seeded fields and, since the pandemic, they have introduced a booking system to help control physical distancing during the experience. Everyone who enters the fields needs a pre-booked voucher, (adult or child, including children in pushchairs). £3 from the cost of the fruit is deducted.
You must pre-book your PYO fruit ticket in advance and non-booked guests are not allowed in. You are free to select strawberries from wherever you like, but there is a sensible one-way system in place, where pickers will be asked to walk in the same direction and not go back on themselves.
As well as being one of the most popular places to go strawberry picking in Essex, Lathcoates also have different PYO fruit seasons, with bounty including cherries, gooseberries and raspberries, as well as a beautiful orchard for apple picking. There is also a great coffee house serving Hot and Cold Drinks, Homemade Cakes, Scones and Ice Cream all day, plus Bacon or Sausage Baps until 2pm. During Covid-19, the farm was also selling a sumptuous afternoon tea for delivery and collection.
PYO Strawberries is free, visitors pay for the fruit. Strawberry picking is June – August.
DID YOU KNOW: Sadly, you can’t go strawberry picking at Tiptree’s Wilkin & Sons farm – probably the most famous strawberry farm in Essex and home of the Little Scarlet, a tiny and delicious, rare strawberry. However, the farm does host a Little Scarlet Race in July each year, with farm workers, guest teams and staff competing to be fastest picker. There is also live music and a best dressed 1960s style competition at the event. Find out more about Little Scarlet on this post about the best afternoon tea in Essex.
McLauchlans of Boxted Fruit Farm – traditional strawberry picking Essex
This ever-so-sweet pick-your-own strawberry farm in Essex is one of our favourites. The same family have owned McLauchlans fruit farm for 80 years. Visitors are welcomed in warmly year-round to the farm shop for fresh, local produce, as well as for different picking seasons. The Essex Strawberry picking season this year starts in May, but the delicious jam strawberries are only available for a 2-3 week period between mid-June and early July.
The pretty Essex strawberry farm is perfect for families, but you must book your slot in advance. They also run an ‘oldies hour’ on every weekday between 9-10am where over-60s can attend with no reservation needed. This was set up in 2020 to ensure anyone vulnerable or isolating would still get the chance to experience picking their own fruit and to get outdoors for a while during Covid-19. The owners have decided to continue with the tradition in 2021. Their oldest PYO customer was 97 and the farm has treasured pickers who have visited every summer for 40 years! So, now you know the strawberries must be REALLY good.
Strawberry picking Essex: Monday to Saturday 9am*-6pm and Sunday 9am-4pm. Pre-booked ticket required. Over 60s only between 9-10am Mon-Fri. boxtedberries.com
FUN FACT: The British summertime isn’t complete without a bowl of fresh English strawberries and cream – what else can you eat while watching Wimbledon?
Spencer’s Farm Shop, Wickham St Pauls
Located just off the A131 in between Halstead and Sudbury, this charming farm shop is open all year and has an outdoor seating area and children’s playground at the back. Kids can also interact with the resident goats and chickens that roam the farm.
This PYO farm in Essex is better-known for its spectacular asparagus (which we highly recommend) but they have a family-friendly strawberry picking Essex field, which is open from June. New Covid-19 protections are in place, including hand-washing stations and a pre-booked system. The farm also ask you bring your own basket or container to cut down on plastic waste – which we applaud.
Strawberry picking Essex: Monday-Saturday 9.30-4pm. spencersfarmshop.com
RELATED POST: The BEST things to do in Essex for 2021
Wash Farm, Halstead
2021 UPDATE: Saddened to report the much-loved owners of Wash Farm, Peter and Shirley Stevenson, have announced they will be closing their fruit farm indefinitely.
This friendly farm is a local secret in Essex with pick-your-own fields available from April to September and the opportunity to pick asparagus, strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, blackcurrants, cherries and blueberries. For Strawberry picking Essex, this small farm offers big, juicy strawberries and a warm welcome from its 30-year-long owners, Peter and Shirley. As well as the foraging fields, the farm also has a table top PYO strawberry area to allow for a no-bending experience, ideal for elderly customers of those with additional needs or in wheelchairs.
Picking is free, pay for the fruit you choose at the end which is exceptionally priced and sold only locally. washfarm.co.uk
Park Fruit Farm, Frinton-on-Sea
If you are hunting for strawberry picking in Essex, unfortunately Park Fruit Farm is no longer offering pick-your-own strawberries. However, they do have a spectacular orchard with 54 different varieties of apples, plums, damsons, raspberries and blackberries.
Picking your own plums is a totally different and equally fun experience, ideal if you don’t have time to visit a farm in strawberry season. The juicy plums are ready for picking in early August. Later in the year, PYO delicious blackberries and raspberries are well worth a return visit. Nearby Frinton-on-Sea has a beautiful beach and features on our best things to do in Essex list.
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