Every month the Ashford’s Farmers’ Market brings great local traders to Ashford’s high-street and as the markets become more and more popular with both shoppers and traders, we begin to see the same friendly faces at each market held.
Loveashford decided it was time for our readers to get to know our market traders; where they come from, their skills and expertise, and what makes their produce so special and worthwhile.
Paul and Judith Sanford from Maidstone are a husband and wife team who have run PJ’s Farm Shop since 2010. From fresh fruit and vegetables to creamy milk and cheese, everything PJ’s Farm Shop sells is naturally produced with no pesticides.
When you pop into their store, located in Sutton Valence, Paul & Judith will harvest your vegetables or fruit while you wait, so you can get the freshest pick!
Paul has been trading with us since the very first Ashford Farmers’ Market, we caught up with Paul to find out more about life as a farmer.
The one thing we love about these interviews is that many of our producers have an interesting story to tell and I understand that your original business started in Ashford on the A20, is that right?
That’s right. My parents, sister, wife and I bought a small holding in Sellindge. A couple of years later we built a small farm shop. We were there for a while but decided to sell it. I was very busy at that time as I was not only helping run the farm but also I had a job as a lorry driver.
My aunt and uncle had land in Sutton Valance but my cousin wasn’t too interested in agriculture so we ended up renting the land from them.
Now your farm is based in Sutton Valence, what sort of things to you grow there?
We grow a range of produce and we also keep chickens. We grow fruit including strawberries, cherries and raspberries, as well as plenty of vegetables. Our best sellers are the cherries and strawberries. We have around 4,500 strawberry plants!
I understand you still use real old fashioned methods in your farming, is it your preferred way to farm?
It is. We avoid using chemicals and pesticides, and instead, put out the weeds by hand. I think it makes such a difference to the produce. They may not be perfect in shape, but they are free from chemicals.
You have a shop in Sutton Valence that you retail from yet you travel all over with your fresh produce. What do you like about trading at Ashford Market in particular?
We traded at the very first Ashford Farmers’ market. I attend lots of different markets, but what’s good about Ashford is that it offers a very diverse range. I think it is very well run and over the past year, it has been supported by more and more of the public.
You can visit PJ’s Produce at the next Ashford Farmers’ Market, Sunday 6th September from 10am - 2pm on the lower high-street.