Grower profile: Kelsey Farms LLP

Kelsey Farms LLP

www.kelseyfarms.co.uk

Paul Kelsey is the third generation to farm at Quaives Farm, Wickhambreaux. The farm lies some 5 miles south east of Canterbury in the county of Kent. Over this time various crops have been grown including apples, apricots, blackberries, cherries, gooseberries, pears, plums, runner beans, raspberries and strawberries. Paul’s grandfather also reared Romney Marsh sheep and cattle. Paul joined the family business in 1987. At this stage Paul’s father, Hugh, was focused on the production of apples and pears with a small area of soft fruit however, by the mid 90’s Paul decided that the fortunes of the business would be better served in the growing of soft fruit and so a complete restructuring of the business began in 1999/2000

Kelsey Farms has now developed into a specialist berry producer with a focus on high quality, better eating varieties such as Driscoll Jubilee strawberries and Driscoll Maravilla raspberries. Production is centered around high output substrate systems covered with poly tunnels, which allows a greater degree of control over the plants and a reduction in risk due to disease or poor weather.

From the outside, a reflection of this detail and care can be seen from the audits undertaken annually by the business:

  • Red Tracker
  • Farm Assurance Leaf (Linking Environment and Farming)
  • Tesco Nurture
  • M&S Field to Fork
  • BRC (British Retail Consortium) packhouse audit
  • ETI (Ethical audit undertaken every 2 - 3 years)

Inside the business there is recognition that “without good people we are nothing” soft fruit production is highly labour intensive. While most of the seasonal workers come from Eastern Europe there are always opportunities for the local community.

Jon Rix, the Farm Manager and now a partner of Kelsey Farms, leads this seasonal workforce as well as directing all of the growing and harvesting operations.

Paul is a liveryman of The Worshipful Company of Fruiters, Chairman of the National Cherry and Soft Fruit Show and a past Chairman of Berry Gardens.