Food-related activities in Fife
Fruit picking, farm shops and cafes in Fife
There are plenty of ways to get active in Fife. David Pollock works up an appetite
Although Fife’s home-grown food industry is receiving ever-greater attention across the country, a typical foodie family day out in the Kingdom isn’t just about eating in nice cafés and digging through baskets of dirty vegetables. For many businesses here the food goes hand in hand with the experience of Fife’s green and leafy countryside, and a visit is sold as a chance to get out in the clear, fresh rural air as much as it’s an opportunity to fill your basket.
Pillars of Hercules farm shop and café near Falkland is one such place, with a farm trail designed to get visitors not just walking but experiencing. ‘It’s a wander around, really,’ says Pillars’ Judy Bennett, ‘so people can watch our crops grow or walk amidst our hens, or just climb a few stiles and get a little bit muddy if they want. I think it’s important that people see where their food comes from, because there’s the sense that people are quite disconnected from it these days; they buy it in shops ready-wrapped and don’t think that it was ever grown in a field.’
For those who want to get even closer to the process, one of Fife’s long-standing rural occupations is that of fruit picker, a job which attracts many casual labourers in the summer months. Should you wish to have a go on a casual basis and then take home what you’ve pulled from the ground or off a vine, the Cairnie Fruit Farm near Cupar grows a range of berries and currants; or for those who fancy the full summer’s worth, Allanhill Fruit Farm near St Andrews takes on 350 casual staff to pick strawberries every summer, most of them students.
Every year Cairnie also grow a ‘Maize Maze’, a challenging children’s puzzle created out of the crops themselves (2012’s shape is Olympic-themed), and they’re not the only ones to have thought of the kids. Both Allanhill’s café and Blacketyside Farm Shop near Leven also feature outdoor play areas, while Muddy Boots farm shop and café at Balmalcolm near Cupar offers a dazzling range of outdoor and indoor activities including grass sledging, body zorbing, a giant sandpit and pedal tractors.
‘I think each part of what we do is as important as the next,’ says Treina Hartell of Muddy Boots. ‘That means when people visit us they can have a full day out.’ There are plans to expand their business further, with a new education room intended to emphasise the farming and countryside aspect of what they do. As Hartell points out, Fife is within easy driving distance of Edinburgh, Dundee and Perth, and you have to give city families as much reason to visit as possible.
Those on an adults-only holiday, on the other hand, might be interested in something a little more intensive – for example the Fife Coastal Path, a 150-kilometre walking route around the dog-shaped coast of the Kingdom from the Forth to the Tay, which can be broken up into easy day-trip chunks. One attraction of this for a Fife food-lover is the series of ‘welcome points’ along the way, a collection of more than fifty local businesses which will either feed you or point you in the direction of good food in their area. Alternatively, Fife Cycleways provide a network of routes on quieter back roads for those looking to explore by bike.