This year marks an incredible 20 years since the first turf was laid at our Hampshire farm. Join us for a trip down memory lane and learn more about our ambitious plans for the future.
Under the stewardship of two generations of the Hewetson-Brown family, Wildflower Turf Ltd has gone from strength-to-strength and this year marks our 20 Year Anniversary.
Our story begins in 1983 when Ashe Warren Farm, near Basingstoke, was purchased by David Hewetson-Brown. At that time the arable farm was multi-purpose, producing wheat for animal feed, spring barley for brewing and herbage seed for forage and amenity use.
In 1982, David Hewetson-Brown devised and pioneered a soil-less lawn turf growing system. This new soil-less product was unique as it did not remove any topsoil at harvest and was of a very high quality. As well as being incredibly strong (resulting in no wastage) the turf was also weed-free.
Thus, the decision was made by David to set up a diversification to complement the traditional crops by going into turf production. Coronet Turf was established as a result.
Alongside the UK’s emerging interest in nature and, specifically, wildflowers, was born a desire by the Hewetson-Brown family to find a practical solution to establishing wildflowers that was both reliable and risk-free.
Armed with the knowledge that huge swathes of wildflower meadow were lost as a result of the need to produce food during the Second World War, it was determined there was a need to replace some of this lost biodiversity. This practical and environmental-based thinking still typifies everything we do here at Wildflower Turf Ltd today.
David’s son and our current Managing Director, James Hewetson-Brown, began experimenting with wildflower products in 2003, and by 2010 Coronet Turf’s sole focus was the production of Wildflower Turf® and in 2011 a stand-alone limited company that specialised in all things wildflower was established. Today the business is led by James and his wife Claire as Financial Director, with younger son Olly also involved.
Today the farm serves as our Head Office and still remains one of our three wildflower turf growing sites. The farm has also benefitted from a number of conservation projects and schemes (such as the Countryside Stewardship Scheme) over the course of the last 20 years, with additional tree and hedge planting, the installation of a pond, wild bird seed cover planting and, of course, wildflower field margins. Ashe Warren Farm also supports 60 acres of biodiverse woodland.
The business expanded further in 2017 with a new production site being realised in Yorkshire and in 2021, Wildflower Turf Ltd acquired a new landholding, Forge Farm, in Shropshire. The purchase of Forge Farm has provided an initial 60,000 m² of production capacity and will enable Wildflower Turf Ltd to continue to grow and innovate.
Keep an eye out for the second part of this blog post as our MD, James Hewetson-Brown, shares some of his highlights from the past 20 years.