British strawberry fields not really forever

Thu Jun 4, 2009 1:18pm EDT
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Health and safety officials have decided to close down one of Britain's largest pick-your-own fruit farms after the owners could not afford to install handrails between the strawberry patches.

Boddington fruit farm, which was established in the 1940s, annually harvests up to 200 tonnes of fruit but has been unable to finance the implementation of new safety measures -- including installing handrails and cordoning off potholes -- called for by health and safety officials.

After more than four decades the farm in Cornwall, southwestern England, has therefore been forced to stop its pick-your-own business, farmer Phil Boddington told local media.

He added that insurers, who regard the farm as a "strawberry factory," deem the risk of letting the public onto the premises too high.

In a note on the farm's website Boddington also said that the cost of insuring visitors has rocketed to the point where it exceeds the profits from hosting them.

There are now fears on other farms that similar regulations could put an end to the centuries-old British tradition of self-picking fruit farms.

(Reporting by Josie Cox, editing by Paul Casciato)