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Best pick your own farms in Essex

It’s peak PYO season, so grab your straw hat and wicker basket, and take your pick from this bunch of fruity farmsteads.

Can we tempt you with something plump and juicy…? We’re talking about pick-your-own farms, of course (cheeky!). We love a bit of wholesome rural fun here at Muddy and – as luck would have it – there are a fair few PYO farms to choose from in our bountiful county. Time to break out your inner Milly-Molly-Mandy, clear out some fridge space, and pick some darned delicious in-season fruit.

Spencer’s Farm Shop, Halstead

This family-run farm has been offering PYO fruit since they first opened back in the 1970s, and they’re still one of the best places to get your fill of juicy berries – from gooseberries and loganberries to tayberries (nope, I’ve never heard of them either). They’re particularly proud of their table-top strawberries, which are grown at waist height for ease of picking. While the littlies have fun on the vintage tractor (there’s also a sandpit, ride-on toys and climbing frame), grab yourself something chilled at The Coffee Shop, or pop into the farm shop kitchen to top up your fruit with some home-made fare and locally brewed beer to tuck into back at home!

Park Fruit Farm, Frinton-on-Sea

This small but perfectly formed farm packs a fruity punch when it comes to PYO – with a gorgeous orchard jam-packed with everything from plums and blackberries to almost 40 types of apples. They also press their own juice (you’re welcome to see the squishing in action), which they sell in their well-stocked farm shop, along with their own home-grown fruits, veg, cider vinegar (made out of those pressed apples), locally reared meats and big jars of honey from a Tendring-based bee keeper.

McLauchlans of Boxted, Colchester

The family have owned McLauchlans fruit farm for 80 years, so are old-hands at providing top-notch PYO, and love nothing more than helping visitors get the pick of the crops. When you arrive, you’ll be shown where the best crops are that day and away you go. Strawberries, blackcurrants and raspberries are still going strong (until early August) with sweetcorn popping up at the latter end of the month – perfect pickings for the barbi. PYO in the midday sun is hot stuff, so treat yourself and your pint-sized pickers to homemade fresh fruit ice lollies or iced coffee from the gorgeously vintage The Wondering Blossom.

Cammas Hall Fruit Farm, Hatfield Broad Oak

Nestled on the border of Essex and Herts, you can choose from a huge range of juicy specimens – just click here to find out what’s ripe for the picking or what’s coming soon. New to the farm this year is their Afternoon Tea in The Orchard room, where you can treat yourself to Grandma Pam’s homemade cakes, or tuck into some pizza cooked in the woodfired pizza oven. Before you head home, let the small peeps go wild in the play area while you check out the farm shop’s locally sourced goodies, from meats and cheese to delish chutneys, along with their own homemade jam and honey. If you’re a Beatles fan or just love an insta-worth snap, don’t miss the ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ sign!

Lathcoats Farm, Galleywood

This fourth-generation farm has been in the Taylor family since way back in 1912, and they’re passionate about offering their customers their own super-fresh fruit together with locally sourced treats from other local indie producers. Offering strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants and some early plums, it’s usually a case of the early bird gets the best pickings, as this farm is hugely popular. You could always kick start your pickings with a freshly brewed coffee and homemade cake from their Bee Shed Coffee House. Before you head home, their award-winning farm shop is also well worth a visit, while the little folk will want to say hello to the farm’s friendly residents, including alpacas and donkeys.

Bloomfield Fruit Farm, Chipping Ongar

A sucker for juicy plums (*snigger*)? Then now’s the time to head over to Bloomfield Fruit farm, as late July is when these fruits are just starting to come out. Nestled in this beautiful part of the Essex countryside, the farm’s super-friendly experts on all things plum related will happily talk you through the varieties available (a good dozen in the UK alone) and which ones make the best jams or chutneys.

Little Mountains Farm, Maldon

Situated in the heart of rural Essex, Dennis William Mann took over the farm in 1952 and it’s currently run by his two sons and grandson, so it’s very much a family affair. It’s also a mixed working farm, so don’t be surprised to see the odd turkey on your fruit-picking travels. The guys just decided this week to open the farm again to PYO, as it had to close last week to give the fruits time to replenish. With no booking needed, you can pop along there this weekend and have your pick of their ripe and ready strawberries, raspberries and blackberries.

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