One of the UK’s leading fresh and frozen soft fruit growing businesses has today (5th July 2018), been launched as a LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) Demonstration Farm in recognition of its commitment to more sustainable farming. It joins over 35 other LEAF Demonstration Farms set up to showcase the very best of sustainable farming practices to farmers and a wide range of audiences through organised visits.
A.J and C.I Snell, owned and managed by Anthony and Christine Snell, is a family owned business near Ross on Wye in South Herefordshire. It produces nearly 1,300 tonnes of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and redcurrants every year, along with a further 700 tonnes of conventional and organic blackcurrants. The business also includes retailer packing facilities and a pallet freezer store offering freezer storage, blast freezing and online British Frozen Fruit sales.
As a LEAF Marque certified business, the farm prides itself in high standards of horticultural growing and innovation farmed in a sustainable way through Integrated Farm Management (IFM). This includes the use of natural methods of pest control, carefully assessing energy and water use, adopting a ‘reduce, reuse and recycling’ approach to waste management and protecting and enhancing the farm’s wealth of environmental features. Polytunnels are managed sensitively and habitats created to enhance the natural landscape and provide vital links between habitat areas. An ongoing programme of hedgerow and tree planting is carried out and bird populations are carefully managed. Over 49 species of birds have been recorded in recent years – well above the national average and one of the highest in the county. These include three species of Raptor, Skylark, Little Grebe, Great Spotted Woodpecker and both Little and Tawny Owls.
Anthony and Christine Snell are also passionate about sharing how they are trying to balance a thriving business with positive environmental management. The farm regularly takes part in LEAF Open Farm Sunday and also hosts visits for other farmers, schools and a wide range of interest groups.
Anthony Snell said: “We are extremely proud to have been recognised by LEAF for all that we do to combine profitable fruit farming with sensitive environmental management. We have always tried to be innovative and forward thinking in the way we farm. LEAF’s IFM approach is all about striving to achieve balance across the whole farm. We’re working hard in lots of practical ways to conserve and enhance the natural environment by planting trees, creating wildlife habitats and cutting our carbon footprint. Being a LEAF Demonstration Farm will be a brilliant way to build on what we have already achieved and develop our interest in reconnecting people with how their food is grown.”
LEAF chief executive, Caroline Drummond, who also attended the launch added: “Our industry has much to be proud of. For over twenty-five years, LEAF’s network of Demonstration Farms has been leading the way in promoting best practice in sustainable farming to other farmers as well as bridging the gap between farmers and the public. A. J and C.I Snell deserve their place amongst them. It is a first-class example of how the principles of IFM can be implemented in the fruit sector and will play an important role in not only inspiring others in the food and farming industry but also helping to raise awareness amongst the public about sustainable food production.”
As a LEAF Demonstration Farm, A. J and C.I Snell will act as a live demonstration promoting the principles of IFM to other farmers as well as to industry, politicians and community groups.
A.J and C.I Snell was officially launched by past LEAF Board member and local farmer, Patrick Wrixon on Thursday 5th July 2018. Guests at the launch were given a farm tour to see IFM in action and how production and conservation go hand in hand.