Angus Davison, our founder and now ‘Eccentric Chairman’ begins growing strawberries as a degree thesis project on one hectare of rented land in Herefordshire, UK. Sleeping in the field.
He plants another 2ha. A week before his final exams. Rabbits ate the plants.
“I shouldn’t stop what you’re doing until you’ve found something better”. Timely wise words from Grandfather. Much parental advice too. Maybe growing strawberries can be a career, not just a way of funding winter travel.
The Berlin Wall falls. So we plant in Hungary for the adventure.
We import the first multibay polythene tunnels in the UK from Spain and tentatively put them up, with expectations from British manufacturers that they will blow down.
They didn’t. But they did need strengthening, widening, raising, and making accessible by tractors. Neighbours ask for some.
After surprise bankruptcy of a contract factory we re-employ the seven staff and begin manufacturing our first Haygrove polytunnels in a cow shed three days later. (Thanks Marty).
We begin Haygrove Development, a not-for-profit social business to support projects in less advantaged places.
We plant the first dwarf rootstock cherries and the first organic berries under tunnels in the UK. Cherries were then an industry in severe decline; organic berries didn’t exist.
We move our tunnel manufacturing to Poland in partnership with Leszek Sawicki, a star who rose over seven years through the ranks from fruit picking to packhouse managing.
We begin exporting tunnels to Kenya. After very heavy rain ruined their crops.
We plant cherries with John Jones in Kington, at altitude, on a beautiful farm on the Welsh border. More follow with Richard Hammond.
With customer request we extend our growing to the southern hemispehere by setting up Haygrove Heaven in Hermanas, South Africa with Sean Tager, a star picker who rose fast over four years. We nervously plant 1ha. In 15 years this would become 250ha, employing thousands in three locations with different climates. They are named Haygrove Eden, Haygrove Earth and Haygrove Amajuba. All beautiful places with wonderful people.
We join with Nick and Kathy Evans, forming Haygrove Sidlesham. The best raspberry results in the world, until Nick decides to go sailing instead in 2018.
We set up Gambia-is-Good in Gambia; a country then, with 92% of its population in subsistence agriculture. ‘GIG’ was a not-for-profit fairtrade social business, connecting mainly female growers to local hotels, restaurants and emerging supermarkets, with lorries and vans collecting a large range of produce. Andrew Hunt wins a World Business & Development Award in 2008 from Kofi Annan. Now sadly stopped as the need became replaced locally by competition. They call this development success.
Haygrove USA begins. It's never been easy in the USA.
Mark Woodhead and Alan Bissett forge Haygrove Australia. Oscar Chavez began Haygrove Mexico and Pablo Vial opened Haygrove Chile.
The Bright Futures social upliftment programme started, offering the chance to pickers to become business partners, with five years of training and preparation. Now 41 are on the programme.
We are the first, to begin producing raspberries on scale in substrate systems. This development changed the industry over the next decade as tunnels had done some years before.
Mark Pritchett gets going with tunnel sales across Southern Africa, later we buy Haygrove Panorama farm.
Haygrove Small Beginnings is started in South Africa. A micropropagation TC lab in partnership with the much published Brenda Vermaak.
To bring better tunnels to the gardener too, we begin selling Garden Tunnels.
We begin Ross Community Garden in the UK with Tim Shelley for disadvantaged people. This is followed by a further two and a plan for more.
Angus' mother Cilla plants vine grapes commercially. So we start Haygrove Evolution with Simon Day, who has 30 years experience in wine and cider making. Half of the business is making international award winning wine branded as ‘Sixteen Ridges’ and cider branded ‘Once Upon a Tree’. The other half is selling high quality home grown UK and imported vines to other growers, advising, and contract making wine and cider for them.
Working with Driscolls, the world's leading berry business, we buy their 100ha farming activity in Portugal and market the fruit through them. We call it Haygrove Blue Sky.
Haygrove Germany formally opened by Maria Mauel and Tim Crossman. A team of highly energetic staff supply Growing Systems to over 400 growers.
Haygrove Africa is formed, a specialist group of blueberry farmers in Southern and Eastern Africa. They were selected because all of them do, or intend to do remarkable work in sustainability and Triple Bottom Line measurement.
Haygrove China is excitedly, and again cautiously, launched with 20ha of blueberry farming in Yunnan Province and sales of Growing Systems. We love the cultural interest in China and feel welcomed.
Haygrove Tree of Life is formed in Australia, exclusive global horticultural distributor to Galuku coir from their factories in Sri Lanka, India and Malaysia. The coconut tree and its fruit is remarkable in its health and uses, and our tunnel customers need reliable innovative coir to grow in. Dave Bardon leads.
Haygrove is now a range of partnerships and run in divisions of Growing and Growing Systems, half and half. Growing is run by Sean Tager in South Africa and by James Waltham in the UK and Portugal. Growing Systems is run by Sean Gardner. Richard Mills as Finance and New Business Development Director oversees it all.