19 May 1995

Pickers make short work of asparagus…

Pick Your Own enthusiasts made short work of the first of the asparagus crop on Priory Farm, Nutfield, Surrey, when they cleared a field of Cito in just one hour.

This came as no surprise to farmer John Shinner, one of the pioneers of PYO whose many years of experience have led to a good understanding of the publics needs. This, he believes, has made his PYO such a success and turned his own small venture into the thriving and profitable business it is today.

Priory Farm is in the London Green Belt and receives more than 500,000 visitors each year. The majority of these people live in built-up areas and come to the farm, not just to pick the wide selection of fruit and vegetables, but to enjoy the countryside.

"We aim to provide the community with a pleasant environment where they can enjoy the fresh air as well as the fresh produce," said John Shinner, who farms in partnership with his wife, sons Bill and Ben and Francis Hallowes.

With this in mind, Mr Shinner has prepared a busy programme of events spanning the whole picking season. Highlights include a Farm Walk for FWAG National Farm Walk Week (Jun 5, 6pm) and a family fun day in aid of the Save the Children Fund (Jul 1), which will feature a balloon race, Punch and Judy, jugglers and, hopefully, a small circus. They are also holding tastings in the farm shop, an exhibition of work by wildlife artist David Shepherd (Jul 15/16) and many other events which he hopes will encourage even more people onto the farm.

Maggie Peel