Our last day of touring with Haygrove. We saw an incredibly huge strawberry operation with the picking tractors being used that day. That's 56 tunnels in a row - simply stunning! The picking machine was very slow moving, and seemed slightly awkward for the pickers, but they said that it helped tremendously when they had labor shortages last year. Essentially, the picking machines make a bad picker average, which was worth it to the growers when they could hardly get any labor at all. Each picker is laying on an independently articulating bed that they can control with pedals to move forward or backwards to keep up with the picking. This machine cost $90K. Wow. Then we went to another farm that grows a lot of asparagus and potatoes for the local potato chip company. He had some really neat tunnels with great doors that are good for
high-wind areas. The asparagus operation was fascinating - they are able to extend the season and grow out of season - keeping more asparagus in the stores from England rather than Peru - their largest competitors. There's one farm in Peru that has 25,000 acres of asparagus!
Boggles the mind. We really enjoyed this farm - pretty much our first farm with any non-fruit, non-tree produce. Got some ideas for growing smaller, better potatoes - and we were definitely intrigued with the asparagus potential... In the afternoon, we went off to another cherry farm, that was neat and tidy and full of Haygroves! Very picturesque -
made us almost think about growing tree-fruits for a second.... but just for a second! This afternoon we also were treated to a trip to one of the most famous farm shops in the area - Oakchurch started as just a little farmstand and has grown over the years to be this enormous farm store with a very
diversified inventory - everything from house butchered lamb to diamonds. Not joking. They
actually had jewelry, too. Interesting. We were really fascinated and impressed by the great selection of ales, ciders and country wines - not to mention the tons of frozen entrees they make in
house - then there was the pretty cool cheese
counter, too. We were just thrown off by the section with the diamonds - funny inclusion! All in all a terrific trip over the pond - we really enjoyed seeing the Haygrove farm, all of the different structures that were in use - especially the trellis house; very neat! FYI, Haygrove is coming out with a new mini solo tunnel for backyard
gardening use! Keep your eyes peeled for that one - should be a winner! Our drive back to Haygrove and eventually to the airport hotel was complete with a sighting of a caravan of gypsies! They were lining the highway with their caravan - just living there for now. I've always looked at inter-highway greenbelts and thought they should be used for something useful - nice to see them making use! Back home now, preparing to put our farm to bed for the winter, we are hashing over our trip to England and looking forward to another season of growing in our Haygrove tunnel - it's been crucial to our success this year, and know that we'll enjoy growing in it for years to come! Thanks, Haygrove!