It is strawberry fields forever for Melvyn (54)

Farmer Melvyn Bowers with some of the tasty Holly Tree Farm strawberries. SG0110715-118TW
Farmer Melvyn Bowers with some of the tasty Holly Tree Farm strawberries. SG0110715-118TW

There isn’t much farmer Melvyn Bowers doesn’t know about strawberries because he’s been around them since he was a baby.

His mum and dad, Janet and Ken, now in their mid-70s, had him beside them as they picked the crop on Holly Tree Farm, in Broadgate, Weston.

They used to take me out of my cot and put me in a punnet box.

Farmer Melvyn Bowers

Melvyn (54) said: “They used to take me out of my cot and put me in a punnet box.”

The family are celebrating more than half-a-century of cropping Britain’s favourite summer fruit, but this year has been tougher than most – particularly with the exceptional 33C recorded on Wednesday that saw the delicate fruit cooking in the fields and plants damaged through scorching.

Melvyn said on Thursday: “Some years we pick for six weeks and some for four. We didn’t get started until about June 14 and, if this weather continues, it will be finished next week.

“After yesterday, the strawberries have got little blisters on them and some have been stewed.”

He devotes about an acre of the 160 acres on the farm to strawberries, but says some growers have given up because it’s such hard work and pick your own farms lose money with people eating as they pick while plants are damaged through trampling.

Melvyn eats his strawberries with ice cream and cream.