South Brockwells Farm is very much a family farm run by passionate food producers Chrissy Wells and Sarah Robinson, who moved to the farm with their parents in 1976. On the retirement of their father David Douglas in 2019, the sisters formed the South Brockwells Farm Partnership with Chrissy’s husband, Arron. Today, three generations work on the farm, with David still keeping his hand in, while the youngest members of the team, Chrissy and Arron's daughters Lucy and Daisy, also play an important role in looking after the goats and sheep in particular.
Local Food Britain caught up with Sarah to tell us more...
Tell us a more about South Brockwells Farm – how has farm life changed since you arrived in 1976?
"We brought 1,500 breeding ewes with us to South Brockwells in 1976, but the low price of lamb and rising costs of keeping the sheep meant it was necessary to diversify to pay the rent. In the late 1980s a small livery yard was created offering DIY stabling and grazing for horses. The yard has a top class reputation and we now offer a cross country course to hire and host equine events throughout the summer. In the 1990's the first bed of asparagus was planted which is sold in the shop each spring, attracting customers from far and wide. In 2016, Becca Mann took on the polytunnel and vegetable patch, which had historically been used to feed the family. The veg patch now supplies the shop with a wide range of seasonal produce which are added to by local growers."
The farm shop has a great choice of products – how important is it for you to be able to sell local produce directly to customers?
South Brockwells Farm Shop is all about seasonal food. We believe food should be enjoyed in season, fresh and at its very best. By buying locally, not only are you supporting local business but the nutritional value of the food is at its best. By selling directly to our customers we can advise on how best to enjoy our produce.
The farm is famous for its asparagus - what makes Sussex asparagus so special?
We start cutting our asparagus early in the morning before the heat of the day. It is taken directly to our preparation room where it is washed, graded and bundled for sale. On busy days it literally comes off the grader and straight into the shop. As a result it is super fresh and sweet. Retaining the maximum flavour.
You work hard to engage with your customers, offering recipes and advice – how important is it to you that the farm plays a part in community life?
We have always enjoyed sharing our farm with the local community, having welcomed visits from the local primary school for the past 45 years. However, in response to the increasing demand from young people who are struggling with mainstream education (which has increased dramatically since Covid), we have now opened our Farm School and Mobile Farm.
Farm School offers outdoor education, and an opportunity for young people to develop soft life skills and build self esteem while working with our friendly farm animals. Our Farming and Food Days offer the chance for them to visit the farm, learn new skills and enjoy a hearty, home-grown lunch.
Our Mobile Farm takes our tame farm animals into the community, enabling others to learn about where food comes from and to connect with agriculture. Our farm education is run by Caroline Tasker, who has joined us from a career in education.
For more details visit South Brockwells Farm on Local Food Britain