Charlotte Gurney looks back over the past 50 years at the family farm as the fruit picking season takes hold
AFTER MORE THAN 50 years of accessing the farm from Blue Boar Lane on the north east side of Norwich, this month sees the arrival of an altogether new route. It's all thanks to a new housing development behind Tesco, meaning that we'll now have a smooth new road, almost entirely for our customers, linking us neatly to both the Salhouse and Wroxham Roads.
For the next couple of months, you'll need to come off the Park and Ride roundabout on the Wroxham Road and whizz in over a couple of roundabouts, via a host of official WHF signs. No more bumps, dusty cars, or noisy diggers chewing up the road - hurrah I hear you all say!
It's incredible looking back at old photos of the farm back in the day, images that so many of our customers will remember and relate to. Back in the 70s, PYO was all the rage, with chest freezers being the start of the white goods trend. It was a family activity to grab any vessel and venture down to White House Farm to ensure there would be plenty of frozen berries to fish out once winter arrived, keeping those summer memories alive. But in truth, PYO was a fortunate accident and leap of faith for the Gurney family; after years of commercial fruit growing for the Wroxham Fruit Growers, some of whose boxes prop up our farmshop displays to this day, supply chains changed and the family found themselves with hundreds of blackcurrants and no buyers.
Some quick thinking led to the gates being opened almost over night to the public, with a note 'Pick Your Own' being stuck up on Blue Boar Lane. And so the advocate of PYO came about as hoards of pickers showed their enthusiasm to pick, starting us on the journey that got us to the farmshop destination you see today.
You'll have noticed all the new shops, and this month, we see the latest arrival in the form of a children's nursery. Once Upon a Time, an established Norwich business owned by John and Julie Banbury, open their fourth nursery on the farm. We're delighted to have them with us - another member of the family and they are a firm reminder of how far the farm has come in 50 years.
Evolving with the times has been key to our survival and while PYO has its challenges, we'll still be welcoming pickers once again this summer. White House Farm stages regular monthly farmers’ markets. Over the summer, they are on July 15 & August 19.