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Chris Hewitt - Dunham Massey

Chris HewittChris Hewitt provides us with *rhubarb, brassicas and soft fruit* from his farm on the National Trust estate at Dunham Massey in Cheshire, just 7 miles from the shop. He farms a three-acre 18th century walled garden, and another 42 acres of open land. Soil Association certified, the third generation farmer is a fairly new convert to organics.

"We used to get banks and supermarkets dictating to us when we farmed conventionally," he said. "One year we produced 1,500,000 lettuces and the supermarket put them straight on to promotion, hitting our bottom line. "This was our most labour intensive crop and the move shook our price dramatically. I thought 'no, I've had enough of this'. We put the farm into stewardship for a 10-year programme and, when I was approached by the local farm shop to supply them with organic veg a few years ago, decided to take the plunge. Certainly in the last downturn in the early 90s some farmers who had converted to organics went back to conventional farming, but there were still people willing to stick at it - and the customers were there to support them. This year we'll be going back to basic vegetables for the course of the recession. We have made a conscious decision to grow only what we know we can sell. If we get the marketing right, we'll be OK – people have to eat, after all. I firmly believe that a substantial core of people will continue to buy organic. They have made a positive, healthy choice for themselves and their families. The days of organic food being the sole preserve of pony-tailed hippies have gone. My two girls love what we do here on the farm and adore the food. It has to be the way forward for the next generation. Later this year the main farm will be in crop production for the first time for eight or nine years; it's hard work, but I'm confident about the future and I'm loving every minute of it”
 

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