But for some reason I was unaware of the amazingly abundant fruit trees, polytunnels and kitchen garden, all of which are totally free to roam, seven days a week.
Hannah Eustice began our tour of Trevaskis in the market shop where she explained how Paul Eustice had ignored all sensible advice and had created Trevaskis Fruit Farm back in the late 70s. The Eustice family had been farming vegetables, pigs and cattle in the Gwinear parish for over 100 years but following one too many poor growing seasons Paul realised the need for change and opened a pick-your-own soft fruit farm.
PYO was an immediate success and by the 80s Paul had added many more varieties of fruit, inspiring his wife to open the farm shop and soon-to-be-famous tea-room which developed into a full-blown restaurant, serving Adele’s homemade pasties, salads and ample portions of her very popular Sunday roast.
At this point it is tempting to say ‘and the rest is history’, but far from it. The 90s brought more poor harvests, which resulted in Paul and Adele losing land and property but as all successful entrepreneurs know, after every downturn comes potential for an upturn – Adele and Paul’s hard work and determination built the business back up, while the restaurant remained busy and popular and then their son Giles returned home from London with new and exciting ideas to breathe new life back into the Trevaskis name. As Giles’ wife Hannah explains, “Giles saw the potential in catering for the healthy-living market, focusing on traditional farming methods, selling produce in the market with zero food miles and helping to support local farms and small businesses.”
Leaving the market shop we headed out into the warm spring sun to wander through the acres of fruit trees, passing apples, gooseberries, currants and raspberries as well as the steaming hot polytunnels with row upon row of nearly-ripe strawberries. Memories of spending my school summer holidays bent double picking strawberries to pay for my first car came flooding back – at Trevaskis they have made life much easier by growing the plants five feet off the ground to both make it easier to pick and give the strawberries room to grow. The kind of forward thinking that will put my chiropractor out of business.
Just as I was about to comment on how fascinatingly educational it was to see how worker bees had been housed in each tunnel to pollinate the plants, so Hannah told me how education has become a huge part of the Trevaskis story. Throughout the year and everyday in the summer term, Hannah, previously a schoolteacher, leads educational tours around the farm – for many children it’s a revelation to see where their food comes from, how it grows and what it actually looks like before being processed and packaged by supermarkets.
As Freddie and I chewed on incredibly tasty raw sticks of asparagus picked in the organic kitchen garden, it occurred to me that this could be the answer to my prayers – as most parents will know, trying to persuade kids to eat vegetables is a thankless task but when they can see them growing, pick them and taste them, most children will see vegetables as a tasty snack rather than a necessary evil that they are obliged to consume before will they be allowed to watch their favourite TV show.
Our tour took in figs, cherries, plums, carrots, beans, peas, and herbs and much too much to mention here, in fact during the year over 100 different crops are grown. The animals on the farm are also a big hit with the kids – the British Lop Pigs are a category two endangered species and probably the happiest and healthiest mud lovers around, living on grass and veg from the farm. Spring lambs prance around a field of lush grass – happy in the knowledge that their job is to re-nourish the field as part of the Trevaskis strict crop rotation policy. And then there’s Freddie’s favourite, the South Devon Breed cattle including probably the biggest muscle-bound bull we’d ever seen.
All in all a trip to Trevaskis Farm is a great way spend a day with the kids, you can pick your own fruit on the way round, teach them something about healthy food under the guise of ‘fun’, have a meal or a cuppa in the new restaurant and pick up your groceries in the market. I’ll certainly be making the most of having Trevaskis on my doorstep to encourage Freddie to eat his fruit and veg this summer as well as buying the rest of my fresh food there – and as we left clutching our brown paper bags full of tasty fruit, local eggs and spelt bread, Hannah reiterated the Trevaskis MO, “We are an alternative to the big supermarkets, we sell home produced and local food and our ethos is focused on organic, fair trade and local family businesses.”
That’s good enough for me!