Wanborugh's Lotmead Farm has been shortlisted as a finalist in the national Pick Your Own of the Year Farm Retail awards.
Lotmead is one of only four Pick Your Own farms shortlisted for the award and the only one in the South West.
The Farm Retail awards, sponsored by Digitickets and run by the Farm Retail Association, celebrate the best in the farm retail industry and are the only ones to be judged by fellow farm retailers.
Each year the judges look for businesses that not only demonstrate excellent business acumen but also champion the quality fruit and vegetables that they have produced themselves.
This year’s category finalists have been shortlisted from Worcestershire, Northumberland and Kent as well as Swindon, and they will go through to the gala dinner and awards ceremony in March of next year.
Lotmead is owned by Norman Parry and managed by John and Sue Meaden. Established in 1983, it is a family-run pick-your-own that, thanks to considerable year-on-year investment, has also developed a fruit-themed play area with structures that provide physical challenges for pre-teenage children with walkways, platforms and climbing frames.
Mr Parry said: “We’re delighted to have been shortlisted for the award once more. We have been shortlisted twice before, and won the overall award once too, so this indicates we’re doing something right!
“Each year we try and make the Pick Your Own bigger and better so families can have a great day out and then go home with fruit and vegetables that not only surpasses the quality they get in the supermarkets but is usually better value, too.
“To be the only Pick Your Own shortlisted in the South West is outstanding and we are keeping everything crossed that we’ll be walking away with the top prize at the ceremony next year.”
As well as offering the pick-your-own experience for visitors to gather seasonal fruit and vegetables, Lotmead has enclosures that allow children to close to a selection of animals including pygmy goats, alpacas, pigs, chickens and guinea pigs. Visitors can take the one-kilometre walk along the nature trail, which leads to a small lake and bird hide and sanctuary. The PYO also has a farm shop and café.
The Lotmead experience does not come to a close at the end of summer, as visitors can pick pumpkins in the period leading up to Hallowe’en and choose their favourite Christmas trees in December.
Some land at Lotmead Farm will be developed to form part of the New Eastern Villages scheme that is planned for the eastern side of the Borough of Swindon, but the Lotmead Pick Your Own is not affected by this and it will continue to function as an independent attraction.
Chairman of the Farm Retail Association, Rob Copley, said: “The quality of the entrants is extremely high and this will be a tough category to judge.
“This shows the calibre of our PYO businesses in the UK and each finalist should be very proud. We look forward to celebrating the very best in the business at our awards ceremony next March. Good luck to all our finalists!”
The other Farm Retail Awards finalists will be announced at the end of the year, and farm retailers still have time to enter. The closing date for the other categories is 24 September.
From the Rising Star Award, which celebrates new Farm Shops or Farmers Markets, to the Lifetime Achievement Award, the awards celebrate the very best of the industry.
The Lotmead Farm website is at www.lotmead.co.uk