Pumpkin growers for Reynolds, brothers Jake and Mark Thompson are third generation farmers, and have been running Dan Mackelden since 2000. The farm is based in Chart Sutton, Maidstone, Kent.
Generations of farming
Their grandfather, Dan Mackelden, started the business in 1947, working on the farm alongside his family until 1975, when he sadly passed away. By this time his daughter (Jake and Mark’s mother) had become a director with her husband Robert Thompson and took over full charge of the farm until Jake and Mark were handed the reins.
A great history of classic Kentish produce
The farm has a real history of growing classic Kentish produce including strawberries, apples and hops, with hops being grown until 1998. The farm continues to grow apples to this day and is always one of the first farms in the UK to harvest Cox’s. In 2009 Mark and Jake also started growing parsley.
In 2002 Mark and Jake took the decision to start growing pumpkins and squashes, which are now two of their main crops. The brothers are both very hands-on pumpkin growers, and throughout the months of September and October they are rarely to be seen! Their busy days are taken up by harvesting, washing and packing the pumpkins as well as tending to the rest of the farm’s produce. Spanish tunnels are used to help ripen the pumpkins to ensure they are at peak condition when delivered to Reynolds.
Protecting the environment
In 2001, Jack and Mark set up Dan Mackelden’s sister company, Environment First Limited. The company offers a complete bespoke solution for all aspects of waste recycling, specialising in cardboard recycling and fruit and vegetable waste, ensuring that any waste produced from the farm is recycled in the most efficient manner.
As well as being a LEAF member and Red Tractor accredited, Dan Mackelden is committed to the environment and conservation and is fortunate to have the Greens and footpath within the grounds of its orchards.