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Fife fruit farm owners’ growing ambition to pull in 100,000 visitors

John and Cameron Laird, the couple who own Cairnie Fruit Farm.
John and Cameron Laird, the couple who own Cairnie Fruit Farm.

The owners of a Fife fruit farm hope they will attract 100,000 visitors this year, as it recovers from the pandemic.

One of the top fruit farms in Scotland, Cairnie Fruit Farm near Cupar has diversified over the years to include many attractions for an enjoyable day out.

Its offering now includes pick your own (PYO), a mega maize maze, a kids’ funyard, plus a farm shop and cafe.

The Laird family, who run the venture, anticipate pulling in visitors in large numbers in the months ahead as the impact of the pandemic continues to lessen.

Before Covid, the farm would annually see more than 90,000 visitors.

There are hopes that good summer weather could lead to the 100,000 mark being topped in 2022.

The business is a big employer – in addition to Laird family members, there are 25 seasonal staff plus 35 on-site pickers.

Widening the offering at Cairnie Fruit Farm

The 120-acre farm was acquired in 1969 by Pat and Margaret Laird.

The couple began growing strawberries for the Edinburgh and Glasgow wholesale fruit market before setting up a PYO strawberry enterprise – one of the first in Scotland – from the back of a trailer in a field.

By 1995, the PYO had expanded from using two caravans to two wooden sheds – one the berry hut and the other was the first tearoom.

John and Cameron Laird in the strawberry fruit tunnels.

This was followed in 2003 by the introduction of the six-acre maize maze and funyard.

The purpose-built farm shop and cafe opened in 2007.

PYO at the location has been widened through the years to offer 20-plus acres of strawberries, raspberries, red/blackcurrants, gooseberries, cherries, pumpkins and sunflowers.

Cairnie Fruit Farm is now run by Pat and Margaret’s son, John, and his wife, Cameron.

Cameron, originally from California, oversees the farm shop and cafe.

John, meanwhile, concentrates on supermarket fruit production and overall running of the farm, including the maze and funyard.

The couple’s three children have all been involved in the venture while growing up.

Now daughter Georgia, 24, manages the front of house in the farm shop while son Finlay, 22, assists with the general running of fruit production.

Retail Manger Georgia Laird sorts through the cakes in the cafe.

Their younger son, Rowan, 19, is currently at university in England.

Cameron said the business had been performing very well before Covid, with year-on- year growth.

However, the pandemic led to a financial hit due to having to close for a time before reopening in stages.

Visitor numbers back on track

Current visitor numbers are reported to be close to normal for this time of year.

Cameron said it was hard to say which are the most popular attractions.

“We also have large picnic and dog-friendly areas, providing a great outdoor venue to meet up with others.”

The main market for the farm is families, while local people make up roughly 60% of the customer base.

David Murray with four-month old Laylah Hall, and her brother Louie, 3 with mum Nicky Docherty.

Cameron said more and more similar farm-diversification businesses are opening up both locally and Scotland-wide.

She added: “Our unique selling point is our exceptionally-scenic location in the beautiful Fife countryside.

“We also have 20-plus acres of excellent fruit.

“We like to keep things simple – we stick to our strengths and uphold our standards.”

Cameron wants to see the business continue to develop and diversify in years to come.

She added that opening all-year-round could be a possibility at a future date.

The Lairds are also hoping to see one or all of their children taking the business forward.

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