For most visitors, the only injury likely to befall them is a pricked finger or a little sunburn.
But that hasn’t stopped health and safety officials claiming pick-your-own fruit farms could be hiding a host of hazards within their hedgerows.
Yesterday, one of the country’s most popular strawberry farms announced it is to close to the public after being ordered to ‘radically refurbish’ its land following a risk assessment.
Boddington’s Berries, which produces 200-tons of fruit each season, was told the farm had to install walkways and bridges between each row of strawberries, cordon off potholes in the fields and install handrails near open ditches.
Phil Boddington, 45, who owns the farm in Mevagissey, Cornwall, said: ‘When we tell people why we stopped doing pick-your- own, there is a lot of eye-rolling.
‘To us it’s a pick-your-own farm but to the insurers and the health and safety people it’s a strawberry factory.
‘The insurers want us to cotton wool the place by adding walkways and bridges, and making restricted zones with cordons.
‘They even wanted us to put handrails in. It is a sad day when a pick-your- own farm is closing because of heath and safety fears.’
He said that in the 40 years the farm has been open to the public, only two people have been injured on the 20-acre site.
The last was an elderly lady who 12 months ago filed a claim against the farm’s insurers over a fall that left her in hospital.
Mr Boddington, a father of three, said: ‘With that claim, our insurance premium more than doubled. It was already in the thousands of pounds and that was far too much.
‘A guy from the insurance company came out and assessed the whole site and said we needed tape or a barrier around any hazard such as a hole in the path or field.
‘It just wasn’t worth it for us. We have every sympathy with the person who had the accident but the fact remains that it has increased our insurance premiums.’
Boddington’s, which opened in 1945 and was one of the first pick-your-own fruit farms in Britain, will continue to grow strawberries and make its own range of jams and conserves.
Coutesy of the Daily Mail 3rd June 2009