A family farm in Nottinghamshire that has been producing soft fruits for 75 years has stopped growing berries as seasonal workers abandon Britain.
Starkey’s Fruit said parts of its business had become unsustainable after wages went up and buyers demanded low prices.
The farm will remain open and produce other fruit, such as Bramley apples, but blackberries, raspberries and strawberries will no longer be grown.
Speaking to the BBC, Suzanna Starkey said the business has been “squashed at both ends”, with rising wages for pickers meeting inadequate prices from buyers.
She said traditionally they would use up to 140 pickers, mostly from the EU.
“Many of them had come to us for years, they knew it was a good place to work.
“But with Brexit it became more difficult and they just did not feel welcome.”
The farm then used agency workers from further afield but the costs had soared.
“The prices are set by marketing groups, we have no say in that – and it was clear the situation was only going to get worse.
“So we have sold our growing frames abroad, so perhaps in Romania or somewhere they are growing strawberries for our supermarkets with our frames, which is ironic,” Starkey added.
She said the decision to stop growing soft fruits has been “emotional”, with the fields that would normally be laden with fruit at this time of year being left empty.
“It’s been with a heavy heart that we’ve had to make the decision to cease production of the berries,” she said.
“We would be sending them out by now, and instead we’ve got bare fields.”