Planted in 1880 by Lord Sudeley on the outskirts of Winchcombe, Hayles Fruit Farm has been farmed by the Harrell family since the 1950s. The farm is very much a family affair, with Joe and sister Esme, parents Martin and Sarah-Jane, and grandparents David and Janet, all having their roles on the farm.
The 100 acre-site was initially given over to fruit farming but in 1999, hail damage meant that the fruit crops couldn’t be sold commercially. So, in what has become a happy accident, the Harrells used what crops they had to make single variety apple juice and cider. The drinks are completely natural with absolutely nothing added, and today, demand for the speciality juices and Badger’s Apple cider is booming.
In 2000, the Harrells diversified further, setting up a caravan and campsite, shop and tea-room. Since then, visitors have been streaming to the site, thanks to its proximity to the Cotswold Way footpath, and today, there is also a mobile cider bar (created from an old apple cart), pizza nights on Tuesdays and fish and chip nights on Fridays (the batter for the fish is made with Badger’s Apple cider). There is also fishing on site and a couple of nature trails to enjoy.
There are about 12 varieties of apple grown on the farm, all of which are available to pick as PYO from late August to October. Each variety is also available year-round as single variety apple juice, which includes everything from Cox and Russett apple juices, which are quite sweet, to Discovery, the most popular juice, to Bramley, which is really rather dry.
As well as apples, you can pick plums (Victoria and Marjorie Seedling) and pears (comice and conference) in autumn, while strawberries are always eagerly anticipated in spring and summer.
Joe’s top 4 fruity picks
This is the first apple to ripen on the farm and is ready to pick by the end of August. Its skin has a deep red colour which can bleed into the flesh, giving it an attractive interior.
Blenheim Orange apple
This is an old fashioned variety that was found in Oxfordshire in the 1740s. It has medium sweetness and is a really nice baking apple as well as a good eater.
This delightful apple has little russet patches (or freckles) on its vivid red skin making it quite appealing to look at. It is as sweet as it looks too!
With Joe predicting a healthy pear crop this year at Hayles Fruit Farm, it’s a great chance to try these fragrant fruit straight from the tree. The comice is a fat, juicy variety with a plump softness that makes it ideal for poaching and baking.
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