Farming on the South Coast
With so many great farming landscapes around the UK we often get asked why we’ve chosen the south coast.
The truth is that we didn’t choose it…it chose us.
With the deep black fertile silts of the eastern counties producing the nations root crops, brassica and potatoes; the opportunity to grow these types of crops was never an option down here. However, what the south coast has which the eastern counties do not, is daylight hours and lumens… and healthy high yielding crops are all about photosynthesis.
Out on the the land, with the south downs behind us and the IOW anchored off-shore, we get a pretty useful windbreak which gives Hampshire, Sussex and the IOW our unique microclimate. What this means is that we can grow crops that are climatically more associated with the Mediterranean… we’ve even grown aubergines, Borlotti and Helda beans outdoors (when others laughed at our insanity!) Although not as fertile as the eastern counties, the soil type is a free draining mix of gravel and silt-loam; so allied with our weather advantage we have the perfect growing conditions for our exotic category champions of asparagus, sweetcorn, legumes, courgettes, squashes, rhubarb and speciality veg such as baby carrots and broccoli (TSB/PSB). With cheap air travel meaning more people in the UK are enjoying their holidays on the med, the public taste for more exotic vegetables has grown exponentially over the last 15 years, added to which the celebrity chefs have worked wonders in raising the awareness of how healthy and tasty these veggies can be and importantly, inspired more people with the confidence to try and cook them, butternut squash risotto anyone?
Mechanisation is a key part of delivering a quality harvest and all but the most detailed cropping is now automated. Relative to other countries, labour costs in the UK are very high and so investment in technology to improve efficiency and quality always makes good business sense. Our sweetcorn harvesters are a great example of how we engineer our own solutions; replacing the work of 30 men, the harvesters were developed with a German engineering company after several years of trials. They select, pick and grade the sweetcorn cobs in massive volumes; meaning that we can concentrate our efforts on getting the best quality sweetcorn chilled down to perfection and packed for our customers to enjoy. They’re actually no more complicated than a giant ride-on lawnmower, and when our customers come down to the farm they always want to have a go and experience part of the harvest.