A huge garden centre near Weybridge that incorporates: a farm shop, café, gelateria (the ices made with own-grown fruits), beehive, playground and 75 acres of picking fields. On our recent visit, the glut of Sonata strawberries was almost obscene. Through July feast on berries, beans, carrots, courgettes, beets and mange tout.
The Thompson family have managed 155 acres in Esher since 1871, and for the last 29 years they’ve run what they claim is the most extensive picking farm in the country. It’s not organic but they use a minimal amount of pesticides, preferring biological methods. Some 40 crops of fruit and vegetables mean you need to arrive with a plan of attack.
Heathfield Farm, Coombe Lane, Croydon, CR0 5RH (01883 743636). Coombe Lane tram or East Croydon rail then 466 bus. 9.30am-5.30pm daily.
Small but more central than some, this farm only has a couple of crops, so call ahead to find out what is currently being picked.
Hewitts Rd, Orpington, Kent, BR6 7QR (01959 534666/ www.hewittsfarm.co.uk). Orpington rail then R3 bus or Knockholt rail then ten mins walk. 9am-5.30pm daily.
A footpath leads from Knockholt rail station over the golf course to 78 acres of family-run farmland with a shop and picking fields. Berries, courgettes, spinach and beans are available throughout July, but the expected bumper crop of 13 eating apple varieties will keep the pickers coming into the autumn.
Opening from late July for picking, this farm shop is run by the friendly Hinde family who keep bees and encourage bats and birds. Noisy gaggles of guinea fowl and turkeys will greet your arrival and follow your movements as you wander among the gnarly old apple and plum trees.
Hadley Rd, Enfield, Middx, EN2 8LA (8367 2035/ www.parksidefarmpyo.co.uk). Cockfosters tube or Gordon Hill rail then W8 bus. 9am-5pm Tue-Sun.
FARMA (National Farmers’ Retail & Markets Association) has awarded Enfield’s Parkside Farm the best PYO award for several years. Picking here is made easy. Pluck strawberries from tabletops then get cream (and honey) to eat them with in the shop. Around 20 different crops ripen through the seasons.
Birchwood Rd, Wilmington, Dartford, Kent DA2 7HD (01322 669711/ www.stanhillfarm.co.uk). Bexley rail then 233 bus. 9am-5.30pm Mon-Sat; 10am-4pm Sun.
Specialising in vegetable box delivery, this farm and shop down Dartford way opens certain fields for pickers, depending on crop availability. Call ahead to find out what’s ripe.