Garsons PYO Farming Policy

  • The 155 acres of Garson Farm’s sandy soils lie in the floodplain of the River Mole, 15 miles from the centre of London
  • The Thompson family have farmed at Garsons for five generations spanning 150 years. This has been achieved by caring for the local environment and understanding how to look after their farmland in the most sustainable way.
  • Now growing crops for Pick Your Own, one of the very few businesses actively farming so close to the city
  • Their mission is to produce the highest quality fruits, vegetables and flowers, with good flavour, texture and appearance whilst using organic manures, modern integrated farming techniques are used and of course hand in hand with nature
  • Strenuous efforts are made to minimise pesticide application by using expert agronomist advice. Spray operator farmers are trained and regularly updated
  • Every year fruit and vegetables are sampled and tested for safety by the Trading Standards Office, with a 100% pass rate and have always deemed entirely safe

Minimising inputs

Regular soil analysis allows the correction of soil deficiencies accurately and without waste. All fruit crops are trickle irrigated – a system of underground pipes places the water directly amongst the plant roots. Water usage has halved in the last 15 years and the leaching of fertilisers back into the river effectively eliminated.

Natural methods

Biological methods are used for pest control as a preferred choice. Phacelia flowers are grown adjacent to sweetcorn because it is a favoured host for lacewings, which feed on the sweetcorn aphids. For strawberries, raspberries and runner beans natural predators control several important pests. In orchards pheromone traps are used to attract and monitor moth populations, reducing the need to apply controls.

Encouraging nature

Fruit crops and orchards have grass alleyways and there are grass car parks. These act as beetle banks and insect corridors so that insects can pass between crops. Five kilometres of new hedges, windbreaks (of indigenous tree species) and two copse areas have been created in recent years. The wide range of fruit, vegetables and flowers grown help prevent major build-ups of any one pest or disease.

Garsons bird population has increased in recent years, particularly of pheasant, lapwing and green woodpeckers. A significant number of parakeets have become native on the farm as elsewhere in the locality.

Rich in native flora

Garson Farm also features a further 50 acres of traditional river flood meadows. These are not fertilised and are rich in native flora. They are used for grazing and cut in late summer for hay. These types of meadows are now increasingly rare.

Over 75,000 local customers enjoy picking in Garson Farm fields every year. They achieve a reduction in food miles and benefit from the exercise, education and fresh air, as well as the health-giving properties of fresh fruit and vegetables.