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End of an era as owners of pick-your-own fruit business announce closure

PUBLISHED: 17:01 04 May 2020 | UPDATED: 10:06 05 May 2020

Oliver and Charlotte Gurney have invested in the community hub at White House Farm, which will continue. Pic: Archant Library.

Oliver and Charlotte Gurney have invested in the community hub at White House Farm, which will continue. Pic: Archant Library.

Archant

For generations who headed there to pick the ripest raspberries and the most succulent strawberries, it is the end of an era - a pick-your-own fruit business on the edge of Norwich have announced its closure.

The pick-your-own element of the business at White House Farm is to close. Photo: Steve AdamsThe pick-your-own element of the business at White House Farm is to close. Photo: Steve Adams

Oliver and Charlotte Gurney, the owners of White House Farm, between Rackheath and Sprowston, said it had not been an easy decision.

In a post on Facebook, they said: “Many of you will have fond memories of picking fruit at White House Farm over the years, but sadly we have decided to close our fruit picking side of the business for good.

“It hasn’t been an easy family decision. Those who have followed the farmer’s journey will know, it has been an up hill struggle and we have tried all sorts of methods to make it work.”

The pair have invested hundreds of thousands of pounds in a community hub at White House Farm, including a cafe, farm shop and a host of businesses. They intend to focus on that side of their business.

The closure of the pick-your-own element of White House Farm on the edge of Norwich has been announced. Photo: Steve AdamsThe closure of the pick-your-own element of White House Farm on the edge of Norwich has been announced. Photo: Steve Adams

Their Facebook post continued: “We like to think we have used the age old PYO as the bridge to our new community hub at the farm.

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“It has been an exciting seven year journey and we are so proud to now share the farm with a range of fantastic businesses: The Hair Boutique, The Barn Beauty Rooms, Knowles Dance & Fitness Studio, Woods Interiors Once Upon A Time Nursery School, GroWild Education and Norfolk Raider Cider, who have helped us build a buzzing site, beyond our wildest imagination.”

People, responding to the post, wished the Gurneys well, but said they would miss the pick-your-own operation.

Flashback to 2009 strawberry pickers at White House Farm. .
Photo: Paul Hewitt.Flashback to 2009 strawberry pickers at White House Farm. . Photo: Paul Hewitt.

James Watling posted: “Happy, very happy, memories. Loved going there as a kid with my grandparents and cousins. So grateful that my children had the opportunity to go with my parents too.”

And Dawn Roberts wrote: “Sad. Many happy memories but it is great to see a business, especially in farming, convert and maintain success. Shall miss that lovely fruit though.”

Mrs Gurney said: “It is really sad, but we’ve reached a crossroads and we just couldn’t find a way for it to make money.

“We have worked so hard to build this up and we’ll always be grateful to the pick your own for helping us get what we have done here established.

“It does feel brutal, but sometimes you have to make these decisions. It wasn’t an easy decision at all.”

Recently, during the coronavirus pandemic, the farm shop changed its way of working, with an internet order service and boxes delivered to customer’s cars.


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