Local Farmer, Will Friend is planning to open up his Farm and Nursery at East Northdown along similar lines to TV hit show River Cottage where old and young alike can ‘get their hands dirty’ and learn about growing produce …
Mr Friend has been running his farm, nursery and farm shop for 25 years this year. He is a the leading local expert on all things ‘green’ : to do with plants, farming and the countryside. The area also has large communities from Cypress , Italy, Iran and Turkey who all come to the farm to keep in touch with thier rural roots. William specialises in Mediteranean plants, Thanet’s mild dry climate is the best in Britain for growing figs, vines, apricots, wallnuts, baytrees and quinces (a key ingrediant of persian cookery). “The Romans felt at home in Thanet 2000 years ago and brought their plants with them. We grow pomogranites and olives too, but the seasons are too short for them to bear fruit”
“We have a resource here at the farm which is not being made the most of.” He said: “We are in talks with a charitable trust who specialise in training young adults with learning difficulties in employment and general life skills. The Trust already runs centres around the country, and are looking for a suitable site in Kent. We have plenty of space here where they can grow fruit and vegetables, help keeping up the gardens and grounds, and take over the running of the farm shop and tea room , so visitors can enjoy home grown produce and home cooking. We also have the business centre with a hugh range of different crafts and skills on site to draw on. We are building up a network of people who will hopefully operates a range of other complimentary activities.
William is the grandson of former Northdown House owner James Irvine Hatfeild Friend. During the 20’s and 30’s a visit to ‘Friend’s Farm’, and a ride in a horse drawn wagon, was the highlight of the school year for countless Margate children. Then, as now, many children in Thanet simply do not get the chance to get into the countryside. Mr Friend, who also has a working livestock farm in the midlands says : “I think it’s incredibly important in today’s climate for everyone to stay in touch with their ‘organic side’ and understand about produce and how it is grown. Growing things is something everyone can take pride in, and keeping close to nature is an essential part of being human”
The passion for farming is something that runs deep in the Friend family. His two brothers are dairy farmers(and ones also a vet), one sister has a fish farm and another has an allotment in Clapham! Louise’s family are farmers outside Cambridge
The Farmyard, business centre and nursery are to the east of Northdown Park , with the farmland running either side of Reading Street Road and Northdown Hill.