A PLAN to increase the number of Spanish tunnels at Kenyon Hall Farm, Croft, has been submitted to borough planning chiefs – to meet a growing demand for pick-your-own soft fruit.
The farm – which has long been selling direct to the public – already has seven poly tunnels used for soft fruit and is struggling to meet demand.
The tunnels have extended the season for picking soft fruit to 5-6 months, compared to the traditional method of growing in the open which is still practised on the farm but has a season of only 6-7 weeks – less if the weather is bad.
Demand has grown to the extent where picking has to be rationed, resulting in many people having to leave disappointed.
The family-run business has continued to invest, adding a farm shop, café, car parks and sales of ornamental plants.
As a result, it has become a destination in itself – but is challenged to meet demand.
The farm also produces arable crops, including potatoes and cereals, but the current uncertain future for agriculture means direct sales to the public provides better resilience.
It also enables visitors to enjoy the open air and the experience of visiting a farm which encourages wildlife through hedges, trees and ponds. It is home to a number of endangered species, including the grey partridge and the lapwing
The farm is also involved in the community and runs several events that I nvolve local youngsters, including being taught how to grow crops as an introduction to farming
And the farm has also helped in the development of other farms by hosting training events and sharing technology with others.
During the Covid19 lockdown the farm was able to continue to supply fresh fruit and vegetables safely for the local families to access.
The tunnels used are only clad with polythene from March to September,so are not a permanent fixture and they will allow the farm to take production forward into future years and continue to provide good fresh produce with a day out on a farm for the visitor.
Borough council highways and environmental protection chiefs have no objections to the scheme