Hugh Lowe Farms
Jon and Marion Regan’s family farm is in Kent, The Garden of England. The family has grown soft fruit for more than 120 years on the greensand ridge above the Weald, on the well-drained sunny slopes and the heavier land below. The land is so suited to strawberries that wild ones thrive in the local woods.
Marion’s great-grandfather, Bernard Champion, planted his first crop of strawberries here in 1893, to supply the family’s stand, Champion Bros, in the old Covent Garden market. Hugh Lowe Farms continues to supply New Covent Garden market to this day. Due to the good infrastructure surrounding the farm fruit can be picked at sunrise and be instore within 24 hours ensuring maximum freshness and quality.
Looking after the landscape and biodiversity means there is a balance between soft fruit under tunnels, arable fields resting in between soft fruit crops, and land managed for wildlife. The farm is located over several sites enabling optimum crop rotation which helps minimise pest and disease.
Hugh Lowe Farms have a Whole Farm Environmental Plan, encompassing conservation, waste management, water management, recycling, energy efficiency and crop protection policies. The farm benefits from two natural reservoirs, and in the last couple of years has invested in an additional 3 reservoirs to capture water run off from the polytunnels. The new reservoirs have successfully attracted additional wildlife and fauna to the sites.
Tunnels are managed sensitively, and windbreaks and hedges are planted and maintained as screens within the landscape. The farm also supports LEAF, the Kent Wildlife Trust and the RSPB and is accredited to LEAFMarque, the valued environmental standard.
Tom Pearson, Farms Director, leads a skilled team of 41 full time local employees and 500 seasonal staff equating to 200 full time equivalent jobs.
Berries are grown for flavour and to ensure fresh berries are available from April until November. The farm grows the deliciously sweet heart-shaped Driscolls Jubilee, some of the earliest UK crops of Elsanta, and several other strawberry varieties. As for cane fruit, a range of raspberries and blackberries is grown, including Obsidian, Driscolls Maravilla and Margarita.
Although a long established farm, Hugh Lowe Farms continually invests in new technology and growing methods to satisfy the demands of today’s consumer. Marion is an active ambassador of the UK soft fruit industry, in particular helping to educate the next generation about careers in farming. Her passion and dedication to the industry was acknowledged in the New Year’s Honours List when she received an MBE for services to the fruit industry.