Smashing pumpkins in Sidcup

PUBLISHED: 16:55 13 October 2010

George Kelsey, 9

George Kelsey, 9


A farmer and his family are celebrating a bumper crop of one thousand pumpkins.

Bill Kelsey in the farm shop

The kind weather in June has meant that Bill Kelsey of Woollett Hall Farm, Water Lane, Sidcup, has a healthy crop of pumpkins in time for the Halloween market, with the biggest one weighing in at 20 kilos.

The father-of-two is the sixth generation of his family to go into farming and grew up on Woollet Hall Farm after his parents bought it in 1954.

The farm, situated on the side of the busy North Cray Road, was hit hard by the recession with residents ditching their weekly farm food shop for the cheaper aisles of the supermarkets.

Mr Kelsey, 41, bought the 25-acre farm six years ago with his wife Andrée, 36, after growing up on his parents’ first farm - College Farm, near Bexley Cricket Club in Manor Way, Bexley.

Thomas 11 and George Kelsey 9

He said: “The supermarkets want one big supplier and as much from one farm as possible and so the smaller farms suffer.

“In the mid 90s our family used to rent land and farm up to 300 acres a year, now we only farm 25 acres. The recession has really started to hurt us in the last eight to 10 months. Farm shops have declined. We are just about riding the storm.”

Today Mr Kelsey’s crops include asparagus, sweetcorn, rhubarb, broad beans and, of course pumpkins.

He said: “Our pumpkins are a bumper crop this year as we had good weather in June and July when they started to grow from the flower. They took at the right time and now have a good colour.

George Kelsey 9

“We also sell a lot of the smaller ones at this time of year which people use to make soups.”

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