Editors’ Picks: Public taken off U.K. strawberry fields

British fans of U-pick strawberries have found that not all strawberry fields are forever, the Reuters news agency reports.

Strawberry producer Boddington Farm, considered one of the largest U-pick fruit farms in Britain, announced it has dropped the U-pick business after health and safety officials ordered extra safety infrastructure such as handrails between the strawberry patches and the cordoning off of potholes, Reuters said last week.

“We have been advised that we would need to implement radical refurbishment of the fields to make them safe for you, and the cost of this would be more than any turnover we generate,” the farm said on its website.

“Added to this the cost of insuring you all, just in case you injure yourselves whilst here, has also rocketed to more than the turnover.”

The farm, which has operated since the Second World War near Mevagissey, a Cornwall village about 250 km southwest of Bristol, will now only sell its fresh fruit through its own store and the retailers it supplies.

Reuters quoted local media as being told by farmer Phil Boddington that the farm was unable to finance the ordered safety measures, and that insurers view it as a “strawberry factory.”

The farm notes on its website, however, that its fresh fruit sales have in recent years been overtaken by its sales of high-fruit-content conserves. The farm launched that product line in 2001 using fruit supermarkets wouldn’t take, be it “too small, too large, the wrong colour, blemished or simply the variety delisted.”

According to the article by Reuters’ Josie Cox, Boddington’s experience has raised fears that similar regulations could put an end to a “centuries-old” U-pick tradition on British farms.

The discussion over whether a farm should be technically considered a “food factory” has reared its head in Canada as well. Farmers and farm groups in Manitoba, for example, are voicing concerns over a provincial food safety bill, in which the term “food premises” is defined as “premises where in the ordinary course of business food is grown, raised, cultivated, kept, harvested, produced, slaughtered, processed” et cetera.

Farm groups have said they’re concerned about how farms would be classified under such legislation. Community groups have also wondered aloud how such classifications might impact their ability to serve food in unlicensed “food premises” such as at local fall suppers.

— The “Editors’ Picks” feature will highlight eyebrow-raising and unusual-yet-true news from the world of farming, as gleaned from various sources by the editorial staff of the Farm Business Communications division.

About the author

Vice-President of Content

Laura Rance

Laura Rance is vice-president of content for Glacier FarmMedia. She can be reached at [email protected]

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