Vocational Visit to Chambers

Some 45 Members, spouses and grandchildren recently visit one of the largest soft fruit enterprises in the South of England.  W.B. Chambers & Son of Oakdene Farm, Leeds, produce over 1000 tonnes of Raspberries, all under 212 acres of poly tunnels, for the supermarkets.  In addition equally large quantities of Blackberries, Red Currants, Rhubarb and Cherries are also grown.

John Chambers explained to us how the business has grown over the last 15 years, from what was a typical Kentish apple farm to the present large enterprise under the stewardship of his son Tim (who was at the Olympics!!), after he returned to the farm having completed a Degree in Biology at Exeter University, followed by a Masters in Farm Management at Reading.

The Farm Manager Salih Hodzhov , who has been with the Chambers for 12 years, then gave a VERY detailed explanation of the husbandry, packaging and marketing of the fruit that is produced.  In total up to 650 staff - all from Bulgaria and other Eastern European counties - are employed, with a good picker earning up to £140.00 a DAY!!!

Margaret Wright, Mary Beere and Bob Anderson (the new Spiderman)

Geoff's whiskers barely fitted into the standard headgear

After putting on very flattering hairnets and coveralls Members were shown around the new state of the art £1 million Packhouse where the fruit is chilled, graded, sealed, labelled and then dispatched directly to Supermarkets all over the UK. It was then outside to see how the fruit is produced in individual pots which are supplied with water and nutrients by a fully computerised Hydroponic system ‘

photos by Roger Bickerton
click on any image to enlarge

Hygienic safety clothes are mandatory in the packing area
President Robert introduces Salih Hodzov
Left to right: Audrey Chambers, Sheila Boyd-Howell, President Robert (rear), John Chambers

 Finally it was back to the conference room for a delicious bowl of Raspberries and cream and a cup of tea kindly provided by the Chambers Family and prepared by Audrey Chambers and Sheila Boyd- Howell.

A fitting end to what all Members considered was a most informative and interesting visit with many thanks to the Chambers Family for inviting us to their farm.

Thursday 1st January 1970

Published by: The Rotary Club of Canterbury

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