Oxfordshire farm's new greenhouse set to serve up strawberries fit for Queens

A family-run farm in Oxfordshire has picked its very first fruits. Middle Farm in Mixbury has diversified to launch Featherbed Fruits and has installed a two-acre greenhouse that houses almost 80,000 strawberry plants. It has been run by the Rymer family for almost 100 years and farms a range of crops across just over 800 acres of land, also operating five B&B units, ranging from shepherd's huts to luxury glamping tents, and a 7,000 sq ft office complex.

When looking for an alternative enterprise to continue to sustain the business, considering the current challenges in the industry and generating enough income for the family, third-generation farmer Harry Rymer looked into the possibility of growing soft fruits.

The first strawberry plants, made up of both Everbearing June-bearing crops, were planted in February 2022 in a hydroponic, soil-free system consisting of coconut husk and irrigated rainfall collected from the roof. Harry said: "When looking into diversification methods, I wanted something which utilized new technologies to push boundaries and demonstrate that soft fruits can be grown almost all year round, with the greenhouse only being quiet between December and February.

"Growing in coconut husks is an innovative technique which gives a completely blank slate, so we don't have to investigate what is already in the soil, and we're less reliant on pesticides. After investing in the polytunnels and equipment, we also wanted something which could generate a good income in our first year, so we're very happy to see our very first strawberries ripen."

Read the complete article at www.bdaily.co.uk.

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