Hi!, I am Algy, the third generation Garrod to farm at Manor Farm, in Bintree. My grandfather took on the tenancy of Manor Farm in 1931 from the Earl of Leicester, Holkam Estate. It is suggested that, at one time, the Earl could ride from Holkam to Norwich without leaving his own land.
During the Second World War my grandfather was part of the war effort growing food, which resulted in much more land coming under the plough, including Elmham Park and Twyford Park. As well as the traditional crops, such as wheat and barley and sugar beet, my grandfather also cultivated blackcurrants, poppies, peas, and various brassicas, which were delivered 5 days a week to London markets. A dairy herd of shorthorns and pigs and turkeys completed the mix!
My grandfather died in 1954 and my father Brian took over. Further changes took place, seed crops grown for Towsers, a seed company in Surrey and sweet corn, a new crop for Norfolk, which resulted in the first road side sales and the creation of a small stall for ‘fruit and veg’ sales.
With the onset of the supermarkets vegetable growing and the small stall were soon finished. The dairy herd was disbanded in the early 1970s, as was the beef herd in the mid 1980s. In the mid 1980s both farms were bought from our landlords and we concentrated on arable crop production.
In 1986 I came home from Newcastle University, having studied Agriculture. In 2003 I grew my first sunflowers and started selling them as Bintree Bird Seeds from my Dad’s garage. In 2005 we opened Bintree Farm Shop selling home-grown bird seeds. We added seasonal produce including Christmas trees, sweet corn and pumpkins, opening only 3 days a week!
Gradually trade has increased and so has the range of produce on sale.
Popcorn was first trialed on the farm about 8 years ago. First of all just a few hand sown plants followed by variety trials, all seeds being imported from the states, the home of popcorn! Drying the crop proved challenging at first and this was carried out in the home airing cupboard! This led to problems with various insects crawling on to previously clean clothes and resulted in a household ban!
The construction of our first popcorn-drying trailer started soon after and we use it today. It includes a stirring system to turn the grain automatically. We also bought a large corn cooking wok, the largest in the world at time of purchase! This was imported from America and a purpose built kitchen was constructed.
Much testing followed before the launch of Algy’s Norfolk Popcorn in 2012. We cook our lovely popcorn with the best cold-pressed rapeseed oil, which is now grown on our farm, supplying Crush Oils who then supply us with the pressed oil! We are presently developing more flavours to supplement our favourite Sweet and Salt and Algy’s Revenge Chilli.
We have just ordered a new popcorn cooker that will further improve the quality and consistency of our product. Unfortunately we have been battling with the lovely British weather during the development of our popcorn range and have been unable to grow the quality of corn required every year so we have had to make the difficult decision to supplement our corn with imported grains when the weather conspires against us. This year we have installed solar panels on our grain store so we will be cooking with our own electricity and with the new cooker!
We opened our new shop named Algy’s Farm Shop on October 19th 2013, which is now open 7 days a week with an ever increasing range of local produce and other fine foods.