It's a family affair
Joan and Nick Hardingham - bought the farm in 1981, fruit & veg farmers
Eleanor & Barry Sheldrake - daughter & son-in-law - farm shop owners & farmers
Stephany Hardingham - daughter - owns the family fruit cream ice business - Alder Tree Ltd
Isaac (9), Alice (7) & Eva (5) Sheldrake, trainees!
In the farm shop
We have a fabulous team of dedicated and knowledgable people - Katrina, Tracey, Annette, Eve, Julie, Jackie, Hannah, Emily, Heather and Dean.
On the farm
Diversification began on the farm from the very beginning in 1981. Fruit was planted up but it soon became obvious that vegetables needed to supplement this. One of the old farm buildings was converted into a house and others for workshops. An old windmill, moved to the farm in the 1890's and used as a dovecote, got a new lease of life as a craft workshop.
Out in all weathers - Rob, Margaret and Kelvin
Over the years the direction of the business has had to adapt to the changing market for fruit and vegetables. In 1981 there were many small farms supplying greengrocers in nearby towns and wholesalers in the cities; vegetables were sent weekly from Alder Carr to London. As the motorway infrastructure expanded in the 1990's allowing the supermarket supply chain to develop, produce was channelled through large pack houses from large farms. The local market for fruit and vegetables shrank, accelerated by the availability of cheap imported produce. Shopping patterns changed: people were not buying bucketfuls of strawberries to make jam and they cooked less; supermarkets sprang up all around .
The farmily believe there is a niche market for fresh, local products – supplying unusual varieties and delivering freshness where the supermarkets have difficulty - such as with asparagus and sweetcorn whose flavour deteriorates almost hourly. Also, for the high quality products of local farmers and food producers who do not wish to supply supermarkets which involves sacrificing quality to meet demands for a lower price.