Strawberry field forever...maybe

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For nearly two decades the strawberry field at Faldonside, alongside the A7 between Selkirk and Galashiels, was a bit of a local landmark.

During the summer months it was something of a tradition that signalled summer had truly arrived in the Borders when one started seeing customers from Selkirk and across the rest of the region bent over rows of strawberry plants, picking their own.

“We grew raspberries too for a while, but it was the strawberries people always came back for,” said Nicholas Watson, who took on the field when his parents retired. “One gentleman came from Langholm every year. We didn’t like telling him when we knew we were going to close.”

The main farm at Faldonside was sold in 2013, and the Watson family has now decided to sell the famous strawberry field too. But nearly 10 years after closing, might it open again one day?

That is the family’s hope, as Mr Watson told us: “Being by the river it has the best soil on the farm, and being by the A7, it’s visible and accessible, so the perfect spot for pick-your-own.

“We always thought if we sold then it could be an ideal opportunity for someone.”

Originally, the land in question was called the Railway Haugh, but the field was divided when the A7 was re-routed over the new bridge.

“We’ve still got the ‘decoys’ – life-size comic figures of strawberry pickers designed for us by artist John Berry, which we set out in the field each morning,” said Mr Watson.

And, of course, there was the famous occasion when someone cut the rope tethering the Watson family’s giant helium-filled strawberry-shaped advertising balloon.

“We last saw it floating over Galashiels. Apparently it would’ve burst at about 30,000 feet, and was eventually found in the Lammermuirs,” Mr Watson continued.

“It was the customers and pickers who made it fun. People are usually happy picking strawberries.

“And it was good to meet customers – often farmers don’t meet the people who eat their produce.

“Lots of people remember it well, and ‘turn off the A7 at the Strawberry Field’ still works when giving directions to Faldonside.”

Offers over £60,000 are invited for the 12.21-acre field, which is being sold by the Lauder office of Knight Frank.

The firm’s James Denne added: “It would be nice to think it might be bought by someone who wants to continue the strawberry tradition. Over the years, it certainly served the Watson family well.”