Holly Brooks

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Bringing farming to children who may never have the opportunity to see a farm otherwise has been a key driver for Popell Barns Mobile Farm.

Spotting a gap in the market for a mobile farm run by an ‘actual farmer’ rather than a petting farm, the mobile farm allows Holly and Lester Brooks to provide a genuine insight into farming from their County Council farm.

As first-generation farmers themselves, they wanted to engage young people and share their passion for the agricultural industry and what it has to offer, particularly in deprived areas.

The mobile farm teaches about animal welfare, biodiversity and sustainable farming, as well as bringing a practice milking cow to teach children how to milk. The farm has also expanded into a care farm for children with special educational needs one day a week, and school trips also visit.

The diversification has complemented the farm business, with Holly running the mobile farm and Lester remaining on-site to keep the core farm business running. It is also a true family business, with their two children Isabel and Daisy also helping
whenever possible.

They sell their own produce direct to the public, including raw milk, eggs and crops, as well as honey and their own ice cream.

As a small, family farm, the relationship between the two businesses has been beneficial, with the mobile farm bringing in money as well as helping to sell their produce and raising awareness. For example, farm shop orders at Christmas received a
boost from their Christmas events.

Social media has been a key tool for raising their profile, as well as word-of-mouth with great reviews bringing in more bookings.

Attending bigger events, such as the Romsey show, has also helped spread the word.

While the cost of living crisis is a concern, Holly and Lester believe they will be able to weather the storm, with their main focus on education.

What the Judges said

Engaging with local farmers. First generation trying to make a living on a very small scale.