Greedy gorgers force strawberry farmer to end pick-your-own offer

A family fruit farm has stopped allowing people to pick their own strawberries because customers were eating too many of the fruits without paying.

Hacker's Fruit Farm, near Cambridge, has offered locals the chance to pick their own strawberries for 40 years.

But Mark Spight, who runs the farm, said that he was getting sick of watching people eat up to £15 worth of strawberries with clearly no intention of paying for them.

"The cheek of people was unbelievable. People were treating it like a giant open buffet. We'd expect to make about £40,000 during the strawberry season but we lost £10,000 of that to greedy gorgers," Mr Spight said.

"One woman came up to the counter, covered in juice on her trousers, up her arms and even in her hair. But she handed over a punnet with four strawberries in," he added.

Mr Spight said he had even spotted one family "sitting in the field with a bowl of water to wash them in and a bowl of cream that they then dipped them in."

The farm has grown strawberries for 85 years and enjoyed its heyday in the mid-1980s, when the fruit covered 20 of its 35 acres. In time, however, competition from supermarkets in Cambridge has caused the size of the farm to diminish to just four acres, with the rest rented out to grow wheat.

Mr Spight took over the farm five years ago from his wife Hayley's father and two uncles. They, in turn, had inherited the farm from their parents.

Now, however, with a gloomy economic climate and food prices around the world inflating fast, Mr Spight can no longer afford to be lenient in enforcing his "pick your own" policy.

He claims it was costing his family up to £225 a day. "Children would play in the fields ripping up the green fruit and throwing them at each other but the parents would get defensive if you confronted them. It's vandalism. You wouldn't do that in Tesco."

Mr Spight's strawberries, which cost just £1 for a pound, are now being replaced by rows of berries, including gooseberries, loganberries, tayberries and currants.

The berries' acidic taste will mean they, unlike the strawberries, will continue to be sold on a "pick your own" basis.

"We still allow 'pick your own' for the berries as they are far too sharp for people to gorge themselves on," Mr Spight said. "But we will only allow in people who look likely to behave."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Manager

£35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to continuous expansion and growth o...

Recruitment Genius: Automotive Service Advisor - Franchised Main Dealer

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful, family owned m...

Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive - West London - £35,000

£28000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A luxury fashion retailer based in W...

Ashdown Group: IT Systems Engineer - East Riding of Yorkshire

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Systems Engineer - East Riding of...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable