Sopley Farm – pick your own. Why you should embrace seasonality and support local farms.

Have you ever checked what fruit and vegetables are in season before going shopping? Does seasonality influence what you cook at a particular time of the year? Do you look at the country of origin before putting fruit & veg in your trolley? If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, this article will show you why it’s time to reconsider your answers…

Currently in season. Pumpkins of all kinds. Sopley Farm.
A stunning combination of colours.

1. Seasonal produce taste better

Let’s talk about seasonality! I’m sure that everyone has noticed that tomatoes in February taste nothing like tomatoes in September. They look like tomatoes, but have no flavour, right? Why? Because February is not the season for tomatoes! As obvious as it sounds, that’s one of many reasons why checking what’s in the season should become everyone’s habit. We all like flavoursome dishes, don’t we?

My Caprese salad to die for: sweet and juicy seasonal tomatoes from Sopley Farm (bought in September) layered with mozzarella, topped with basil leaves and balsamic vinegar.

2. Seasonal is healthier!

There are many other advantages to following seasonality. The nutritional benefits of seasonal fruit & veg have been scientifically proven to be much higher than those grown outside of the season.

Currants and raspberries from Sopley farm
Currants and raspberries from Sopley Farm. A photo taken in September.

3. It’s much cheaper!

It’s also good for your pocket! Why? As you can imagine, seasonal fruit & veg are in abundance, so in order to sell all of them, farmers and greengrocers offer them at a lower price!

4. Seasonality is good for the environment.

Finally, if the produce is sourced locally, it doesn’t have to travel long distances and consequently pollute the air. So always check where your apples come from, because what’s the point of choosing apples which came from New Zealand if you can have a variety of them from local farmers?

You will now ask me, ‘What about my favourite bananas?! You can’t grow them here!’ Obviously, our climate does not allow local farmers to grow bananas or other exotic fruit and there is nothing we can do about it. All I’m saying is that if you know you can buy fruit & veg in season and sourced locally – choose them over the same produce which came from another country! One thing you can do with exotic fruit is to check if they are in season in the country where they came from.

‘Pick your own’ farms like Sopley Farm in Christchurch are a great place to spend some time with your friends or family and to see what’s currently in season. My first trip to Sopley Farm this year was in June and I’ve continued until now. Not only do you spend time in the fresh air while picking your fruit & veg, but you also have this innate satisfaction of collecting food you’re going to cook yourself. Most of all, you support what’s local and in season, which is what nature gives us naturally. What I also value about places like Sopley Farm is that it’s old-school and doesn’t use any unnecessary plastic packaging like they do at big supermarkets.

A throwback to summer days when we were picking strawberries at Sopley farm.

If you’re ‘young and beautiful’, you’re probably thinking ‘Oh, it’s boring to go to pick your own farms.’ But apart from supporting local farmers, fields of red strawberries, sunflowers or autumnal orange pumpkins may simply brighten up your ‘Insta’ feed and enable you to take creative photos 😉

I hope that wherever you do your fruit & veg shopping you’ll now think about the seasonality of the products you put in your basket, its importance to your budget, environment and better flavour of your dishes. Remember that we’re the consumers and we create the demand. Don’t forget to visit one of the pick your own farms in the area like Sopley Farm to pick up some seasonal pumpkins!

These beauties are perfect for an Autumn decoration.