Blaxhall: Farmer takes on garlic market

A FARMER is starting to see the benefits of his bold foray into the unlikely production of domestic garlic.

In the autumn of 2009, Blaxhall farmer Tom Herring planted his first garlic cloves and, after an initial crop of 7,000, he has now harvested 100,000 garlic bulbs so far this year.

Mr Herring decided to create the Suffolk Garlic Farm after becoming unhappy with the quality of garlic he bought in the supermarkets, and reports good business so far.

He said: “I noticed that people have been crying out for local, quality products at a reasonable price. If they have any questions about the product they can speak to the producer - it’s an extension of their own garden.

“I look forward to supplying the public with a good quality product - a local product. The more people I can open this up to, the better.”

Mr Herring estimates that 90 to 95% of garlic sold in the UK is imported. “When you buy garlic, you don’t ask where it is from, unlike meat” he explained.

“I wanted to produce something that works in the UK.

Most Read

“If I grow garlic and make a little, if the deli shops, farm shops and local stores sell it and make a little, and if the consumer gets a quality British product at a reasonable price, in the end it is a triple win situation.”

Mr Herring spent his first year trialing different varieties for his garlic crop, which he hand plants, at his farm, specialising in arable and livestock.

Suffolk garlic and the Early Purple Wight variety, “with its nice strong taste and six to ten big cloves”, are championed by Mr Herring.

“There are a lot of farms in East Anglia, I wanted to search for a product that was different, something that I hadn’t done or anyone else had done and I wanted another challenge in farming. I can grow other things, so why not garlic as well,” he said.

“I try my utmost to give people locally a chance to work. The local delis, smoke houses and farm shops have been very supportive with their knowledge and help as well.

“Customers tell me that they take garlic and have had fewer colds.”

The poor summer weather has presented Mr Herring with difficulties in forecasting an accurate date for the harvest but he said the garlic crop needed little irrigation due to the region’s recent downpours.