As a child I was always interested in the farm and can remember many happy hours spent harvesting spinach and other vegetables during the school holidays. I even used to get up early and help before school in the busy periods. After school I went to University to study French and Business but sadly, a burst appendix ended my academic career as I had missed so much of the first term that I came back home. Intending to start again the next academic year I worked on the farm full time and found that I really enjoyed it. That was fifteen years ago and I haven’t looked back since. To start with I worked with farm managers and agronomists learning from them and doing my own research. Eventually I learnt all I needed to know about running and managing the farm and a few years ago I took over myself. We had always employed farm managers but each had their own vision of how the farm should evolve and it wasn’t always a vision my father and I shared. Growing up in a farming family with such a knowledgeable and innovative great grandfather might have helped too! Farming is changing rapidly but we are responding to this and I think we have found our niche.
We have made some significant decisions over the last few years such as selling our products into London by a third party. At one time we had so many delivery vans it took too much time away from growing. By using a distribution firm we were able to grow our core business. For example our baby salad leaves have been a huge success for us and chef’s happily state they are serving “Secretts leaves” on their menus. We now plant seeds every day as we harvest at around six weeks so we need to ensure we have a constant supply. Selling 500 kilos of leaves per week into the London restaurant trade is a newer direction. Smaller local businesses can still come and buy directly from us too. Our baby carrots are in big demand too and we sell 2-3000 bunches of these every week. The area we produce on has gone from less than an acre to over 30 in just a few years and to keep up with demand we plant seeds each week.
I grow a range of different crops for our own shop and farmers markets but also for London chefs. Some individual crops for specific chefs and I currently am negotiating with a Michelin star chef who wants his own mini farm here at Milford. One of the reasons that chefs love our produce is that it’s harvested every day for the market. This makes the produce taste sweeter and its fresher that any other supplier.