Prince down on the farm for visit

WHIS­TLE-STOP TOUR: Charles takes close look at grow­ing busi­ness

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - FRONT PAGE - by Mike Ben­nett

PRINCE Charles was in Ald­ing­ton on Tues­day to visit a sup­plier of eggs and veg­eta­bles to his Clarence House home. Douglas Wanstall wel­comed the Prince of Wales to his ex­pand­ing en­ter­prise at Bank Farm, where he was in­tro­duced to the grow­ers, sup­pli­ers and cus­tomers.

AS a sup­plier of eggs and veg­eta­bles to Clarence House, Douglas Wanstall was de­lighted when the Prince of Wales ex­pressed a wish to visit his ex­pand­ing en­ter­prise at Bank Farm, Ald­ing­ton.

Af­ter be­ing wel­comed to the county by Vis­count De L’Isle, Vice-Lord Lieu­tenant of Kent, Mr Wanstall in­tro­duced him to his fam­ily part­ners, wife Stephanie, par­ents Richard and Yvonne and un­cle Ge­off and Pauline Wanstall, be­fore a whis­tle-stop tour of the di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion op­er­a­tion.

The Prince was in­tro­duced to the grow­ers, sup­pli­ers and cus­tomers al­ready con­verted to lo­cal pro­duce mar­keted from the farm base.

It was a decade ago that Mr Wanstall con­vinced his fam­ily they needed to mod­ernise the tra­di­tional farm en­ter­prise and when the in­dus­try was at its low- est ebb they opted for ex­pan­sion into what is now a 5,000 acre op­er­a­tion in­clud­ing two huge flocks of free range hens, com­bin­able crops and a com­mer­cial shoot.

First stop for the Prince was the poul­try unit where the sys­tem was ex­plained by Rob Clayson and John Green be­fore he moved into the pack­ing sheds, that deal with up to 18,000 eggs a day, where he was briefed by man­ager Al Henderson and Jo Wells who man­ages qual­ity con­trol.

In the veg­etable and fruit house that deals with the fresh pro­duce from grow­ers across county, he met man­ager Fan­nin and spoke with Pen­fold, who uses Bank pro­duce for his ready meals.

He also briefly met Romn Marsh farmer Andrew Mart who ex­plained his de­vel­opme of bio diesel.

In a 16th cen­tury barn built part us­ing ships’ tim­bers, he with many of those lead­ing

cam­paign to con­vince the pub­lic of the ben­e­fits of sourc­ing qual­ity food in the short­est time from field to plate.

They in­cluded farmer Tim Piper with his own meat pro­duc­tion unit at Wit­ter­sham open to the pub­lic, tomato grower Brian Watts, Andrew Box­all soft fruits, Joanne McArthur of Mead Cakes, cheese­maker Robin Betts and fruit juice pro­ducer Colin Cor­field.

Cus­tomers in­tro­duced in­cluded East­well Manor head chef Neil Wig­gins, Richard Par­sons from ASDA su­per­mar­ket, and Sue Kn­evett from the Na­tional Trust, who all serve Bank Farm Pro­duce.

Clearly im­pressed, the Prince spent time with each study­ing their prod­ucts and dis­cussing their op­er­a­tions be­fore be­ing in­tro­duced to back­room staff Ros Bowen-Nel­man, Deb­bie Wil­son, Deb­bie Huck­stepp, Emma Melvin, Robin Par­nell and Caro­line Bunting.

Left: the Prince of Wales en­joys a joke on his visit to Bank Farm in Ald­ing­ton Pic­ture: Gary Browne

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Prince Charles meet­ing farm work­ers and lo­cal pro­duc­ers

Meet­ing farm work­ers

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Meet­ing the Wanstall fam­ily

The Prince of Wales dis­cussing farm­ing is­sues

Pic­tures Gary Browne pd1173391

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