Strawberry tasting was one of the most popular activities at Open Farm Sunday at Tiptree on 11th June, where more than 2,000 people took the opportunity to visit the farm and strawberry fields on the tractor trailer or on a Lodge’s traditional coach.
The farm work continued as the fruit had to be gathered and the farm workers were picking strawberries by hand, despite the heat, but on the Jubilee field researchers from the University of Essex demonstrated their robotic picker, a challenging task to ensure that the machine can be taught the skills of the human eye and the dexterity of an experienced picker as well – a long term challenge.
“Encouraging families to visit farms and see how their food is grown is key to the ethos of LEAF’s (Linking the Environment And Farming) Open Farm Sunday; a nationwide event and Tiptree is proud to be a LEAF demonstration farm” said Chris Newenham, joint managing director of Wilkin & Sons.
“We are grateful to all those who brought a stand or a demonstration to support our Open Farm Sunday: Big Bear cider, WW1 Aviation Heritage Trust, local farmers Robin and James Waters who brought examples of their arable crops, Rural Police, food vendors including the famous Millins butchers of Tiptree and all the Tiptree team. An extra excitement this year was the arrival of Liana Bridges and Barry Lewes from BBC Essex “Quest” making their final stop of the day on this very popular programme; they were greeted at the gate by two seasonal farm workers from South Africa!”
After a slow start to the season the strawberries are now producing a great crop of tasty fruit and visitors had an opportunity to compare the flavour and texture of four different varieties of strawberries – you need to taste more than one to be sure!
While some visitors took a leisurely ride to the strawberry fields, others enjoyed a gin tasting session or exchanged ideas on cooking with Tiptree preserves; the youngsters had fun sounding police car sirens and climbing into the cab of one of the largest Tiptree trucks for a family snap, then taking a rest in the huge deck chair.
Open Farm Sunday at Tiptree attracts people from the village and friends from beyond.