WITH Halloween around the corner, north-east Scotland's Westerton Farmers business is harnessing the power of a 'pick your own' harvest to bring in seasonal success.

Fiona Smith runs the Westerton operation, along with her father, at the 840-acre Cairnton Farm, Fordoun, Laurencekirk, where their Pick Your Own Pumpkin Patch will welcome the public on the 24 and 25 of this month, with some after-school picking slots also available.

The fourth generation farmer explained: “The reason for doing this was to look at ways to improve the business and diversify. As well as our arable enterprises we used to rear cattle but sold our herd in early 2020. Looking at our staffing and where our passion was focused, we decided to go down the vegetable route, allowing us to sell direct to the public. I love engaging with our customers and connecting with the community, it helps to build knowledge on how food is grown and where it comes from which is really important.

“Pick Your Own Pumpkin Patch is a great public event, and we really enjoy hosting the event and market. We also offer quad pod rides, invite market stalls with produce, coffees, and food. This year we are ticketing the event to make sure we can manage numbers, as it’s usually very popular, especially as it’s the last weekend before Halloween.”

Speaking about the support they've received from the Clydesdale Bank, Fiona said: “We have an amazing advisor who has been a huge support. Colin Milne really understands us and got our objective when we wanted to rethink our commercial focus. He always points us in the right direction when thinking about innovative and viable new produce. His help also comes in the form of guidance which helped us to secure a loan to install a new Ground Source Heat Pump System, which is a renewable energy source and improves the farm’s long-term sustainability.”

Mr Milne, who has been supporting the family with business advice for decades, said: “I really enjoy collaborating with farming families to make a diversification plan come to fruition, and to see it deliver benefits beyond those anticipated is such rewarding work. Fiona is so passionate about education and bringing the classroom out to the countryside, that I have no doubt Westerton Farmers will continue to go from strength to strength. Developing long-term relationships is really key to getting under the skin of a business, and absolutely crucial to securing the capital needs of a viable financial plan.”