AN astonishing half century anniversary is being marked this week to celebrate the connection between a family farm supplier and a traditional greengrocer.

Exactly fifty years ago Richard Spilman sold his first crop of strawberries to the greengrocer shop in Thirsk. Back then the shop was owned by Terry Dennis, while the shop has changed hands and is run by the Potter family, Spilmans from nearby Church Farm at Sessay, has been constantly supplying their soft fruits.

Fiona Potter who has been at the shop for the past decade, taking over fully in 2015, is organising a strawberry celebration to mark the event with Richard due to make his latest delivery.

"It is such an impressive milestone and Spilmans has become a major force in supplying strawberries and soft fruit for us. They are consistently of the best quality, at this time of year we get daily deliveries and the family go all out to ensure they are the best.

"It is fantastic that we can get this kind of supply all through the summer from just a few minutes down the road. I can't think of anywhere else that has managed to maintain that kind of service consistently for years and years.

"This year the soft fruit season was late because of the weather, and now it is in full swing. Spilmans do pick your own on the farm and have their own farmshop so it is really busy at the moment for them and us but I wanted to mark the event. This isn't the kind of anniversary that comes around very often so at 10am on Saturday we are having a bit of a celebration."

Spilmans grow15 acres of strawberries on the farm at Sessay and this year launched their pick your own on June 12. Strawberries are planted in May and cropped a year later. They say the plants produce 'excellent strawberries' for three years before they are ploughed in to rotate them around the farm, moving them in five acre blocks. They add: "We believe this is the secret to our great tasting Spilman’s strawberries Our chosen method minimises the use of chemicals on our fruit.

"We have a range of different varieties of strawberries on the farm which are selected for their excellent taste, ripening date and the ability to grow in the soil, they are grown uncovered and therefore ripen naturally in the sunshine. Church farm is also home to some very special wildlife with rare grey partridge, skylarks and hares. We aim to produce lots of fruit but always working in harmony with the wildlife that lives around the farm by providing a safe habitat and plenty of food for them throughout the year."