Arscott farm, near Shrewsbury, has become a ‘go-to’ place for Hallowe’en Pumpkins, Christmas trees and ‘Farm Yard Flicks’. Joe Hamer explains how diversifying has created a colourful business on land farmed by his family for generations.
Arscott farm, in a small hamlet near Plealey, has been in Joe Hamer’s family since 1883. He’s the 5th generation to farm there and run the business with his fiancée Laura and his little girl Lucie is never far away!
In recent years, Joe has been building a name for the farm – not in sheep and cows, as his ancestors did – but in Christmas trees, pumpkins and farmyard cinema screenings.
And it’s working – last October, Joe saw more than 3,500 parents and children coming to pick pumpkins from his four acre patch.
“We could have dreamed of the success they were,” Joe says.
He grows all kinds of pumpkins and squash for pick your own and with refreshments available onsite, from luxury hot chocolate to fish and chips, it’s a grand day out – opening from October 9 and then every weekend in October and every day during half term from 10am to 5pm.
The pictures from last year speak for themselves. Granny Dawn Woodward shared her lovely pictures on Facebook after last year’s event (above): “There was a great selection of pumpkins and great fun to run around, my two grandsons had a brilliant time,” she said.
Joe began started selling his first Christmas trees five years ago, beginning with just 30 bought from a wholesaler and selling on the Sunday market.
He now sells over 1,000 trees every year from the farm, opening from the end of November.
Joes says: “We specialise in selling premium Nordman fir (non drop) British grown Christmas trees and we also have a large range of wreaths made by local craftspeople. This spring will see us plant the first of our own Christmas trees which will be available on a pick your own basis in around six years’ time - something we are really excited about.
“We’re active members of the British Christmas tree growers association and strive to improve on the trees we sell and service we provide to our customers.”
Joe explains how activities are constantly evolving at Arscott: “After trying to farm in the more conventional ways (sheep and cows) and finding it incredibly hard to make a decent living I started to diversify in Christmas trees first five years ago then pumpkins last year and the Farm Yard Flicks this September,” he says.
“Farm Yard Flicks was a great night where we showed The Greatest Showman in our farms parkland where families enjoyed refreshments from the onsite gin bar, barbecue and sweet and popcorn stalls. We even built an auditorium from straw bales!
"We couldn’t make the traditional way of farming pay as margins are so tight anyway and, with the added issue of starting out fresh, it was too hard to get up and running."
The Arscott pumpkin patch will be open from October 9 up until Hallowe'en Friday Saturday and Sunday and all of half term.
Joe has also planted pumpkins at a second site this year – a joint venture between Arscott and the Seaton family at Audlem in Cheshire – also opening for pick your own.
The Arscott Christmas Tree sale will be open every day from the last weekend of November, normally until just before Christmas, with trees available from 4ft up to 25ft! There's a buy one get one free offer too - with each tree purchased Joe is giving a free sapling.
Pictured: The new generation at Arscott Farm - Joe Hamer with his fiancée Laura and daughter Lucie