Emily and Charlie Woodall

During Covid-19, Emily and Charlie Woodall saw an opportunity to transform their 405-hectare (1,000- acre) arable farm on the cusp of greater London into a multifaceted hub whichbrings together food and drink, fitness,
camping and unique event experiences.

Their reimagination of how traditional farm settings can enrich community living has now successfully transformed a previously secluded business into a thriving diversification, where local people gather together connecting the urban and rural world.

Converting their old dairy by filling a  few skips and applying a fresh layer of screed to the floor, Emily left her job as a personal trainer in London to establish her own gym. The business now delivers more than 40 hours of classes by 11 instructors, with nearly 100 unlimited members.

What started as a pop-up event in a tipi for a month to host baby classes on-site has gone on to develop and now operate as a cafe, open seven days a week and serving more than 1,000 coffees a week to walkers and cyclists, employing two full-time employees and two extra part-time weekend staff.

The tipi also enabled the couple to try an evening food event for the first time, and once again through Covid-19, they grew their numbers, welcomed top, local chefs and utilised their World War Two blister hanger to create a unique event space.

To date, they have welcomed  wedding receptions, numerous kids’ parties, monthly full-moon ceremonies and weekly summer yoga classes. Since January 1 this year, they have had more than 100 enquiries for weddings alone.

Completing the business is the  campsite which runs three bell tents, two shepherd’s huts and a range of bring-your-own tent pitches, which are booked up in advance through summer.

Reflecting on their growth, Charlie says: “ We have done all of this with zero investment and through minimal savings. Through making the most of the 56/28-day rule and Class R Permitted Development, we have been able to grow organically and not had the risk or pressure of trying to make a return on something we know would not work. Word of mouth has been our primary marketing tool.”

Looking ahead, Charlie and Emily will continue to tap into new markets and have started running networking mornings for local businesses with possible team building days in the pipeline. A revamp of their events and wedding offerings from 2025 will become more refined for those wishing to use the space, as well as those managing it.