Lotmead Farm in Wanborough, near Swindon, has been awarded the prestigious title of best national Pick Your Own of the Year Farm Retail awards.
Lotmead was one of only four Pick Your Own farms shortlisted for the award and the only one situated in the South West.
The Farm Retail awards, run by the Farm Retail Association, celebrate the best in the farm retail industry and are the only ones to be judged by fellow farm retailers.
Each year the judges look for businesses that not only demonstrate excellent business acumen but also champion the quality fruit and vegetables that they have produced themselves.
The judges said they were impressed and inspired by the business, with well thought out plots, strawberries well set out and raspberries in great condition.
Lotmead is managed by John and Sue Meaden. Established in 1983, it is a popular family-run Pick Your Own that, thanks to considerable ongoing investment, has also developed a fruit-themed play area with structures that provide physical challenges for pre-teenage children with walkways, platforms and climbing frames.
As well as offering the Pick Your Own experience for visitors to gather seasonal fruit and vegetables, Lotmead also has enclosures that allow children to get up close to a selection of animals, including pygmy goats, alpacas, pigs, chickens and guinea pigs. Visitors can take the one-kilometre walk along the nature trail, which leads to a small lake and bird hide and sanctuary. The PYO also has a farm shop and café.
In recent years, the Lotmead experience has been extended, so it runs from May until December. As well as offering soft fruit and vegetable picking throughout the summer, Lotmead also offers visitors a popular pumpkin picking experience in the period leading up to Hallowe’en. Visitors can also choose their favourite Christmas trees in December.
Some land at Lotmead Farm will be developed to form part of the New Eastern Villages scheme that is planned for the eastern side of the borough of Swindon, but the Lotmead Pick Your Own is not affected by this and it will continue to function as an independent attraction.
Owner Norman Parry said: “We’re delighted to have won this award once more. We put a considerable amount of additional investment in the children’s play facilities each year, and schedule in more and more experiences as time goes on, so this award suggests we’re doing something right!
“Each year we try and make the Pick Your Own bigger and better so families can have a great day out and then go home with fruit and vegetables that not only surpasses the quality they get in the supermarkets but is usually better value, too.