Health and safety officials have decided to close down one of Britain’s largest pick-your-own fruit operations after the owners could not afford to install handrails between the strawberry patches.
Boddington fruit farm, which was established in the 1940s, annually harvests up to 200 tonnes of fruit but has been unable to finance the implementation of new safety measures – including installing handrails and cordoning off potholes – called for by health and safety officials.
After more than four decades the farm in Cornwall, southwestern England, has therefore been forced to stop its pick-your-own business, although it continues to supply fresh-picked berries, farmer Phil Boddington said on his website. “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. 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.”
He added that insurers, who regard the farm as a “strawberry factory,” deem the risk of letting the public onto the premises too high.
There are now fears on other farms that similar regulations could put an end to the centuries-old British tradition of self-picking fruit farms.