HORTICULTURE, GLOUCESTERSHIRE: Rees is a fourth-generation farmer producing vegetables, fruit and Christmas trees on the family’s 170-acre (69-hectare) farm. Though the farm started out as a mixed enterprise in the 1930s, it moved into arable in the 1970s and opened a farm shop in the 1980s. In 2010 Rees opened an event venue in a restored grain barn, which now hosts weddings, parties and corporate events.
Rees currently grows pumpkins, squash, sweetcorn, raspberries, strawberries, asparagus, rhubarb and Christmas trees, all of which are sold in his farm shop/cafe on the outskirts of Gloucester. The farm offers ticketed pick-your-own soft fruit, sunflowers and pumpkins, when in season.
Though Rees farms conventionally, he is very aware of the impact farming can have on the environment. So where possible he uses biological controls like insect predators on the soft fruit instead of chemical pesticides. The farm has also created new woodland and grass margins around the bigger fields, which has provided a huge boost to wildlife, including hares, owls and small woodland birds.
In addition to the shop, PYO and event venue, Rees has established a countryside adventure farm park, providing themed activities for children on certain weekends and for special events throughout the year.
The farm has an airstrip, so in a further diversification, Rees’ father Rob operates a microlight flying school, run as a separate business.
Rob has flown Rees around the UK since he was five, and now Rees holds his own microlight pilot licence. After leaving school he spent over seven years in the RAF, keeping Sea Harriers and Hercules flying. That was followed by two years at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester. Rees returned to the farm in 2011 and in 2013 he became a partner in the business alongside his brother, mother and father. With Rees’ brother now running his own business and his mum and dad concentrating on travelling and flying instruction, Rees is now at the helm.
Rees feels it is important to be able to communicate with the media to present the full and clear facts of a story, without them being dramatised.
Rees believes a basic financial education should be part of the school curriculum. "The general public just aren't educated in the basic costs of production, requirement for profit and why things can cost so much to buy in shops. This causes a feeling of resentment against businesses, farmers included, causing comments such as profiteering, rich landowners and farmers etc that aren't fair."
Member of National Farmers’ Union, Country Land and Business Association, Farm Retail Association and the National Farm Attractions Network.
Has been interviewed by most types of media.