8 December 2000

Japanese hit

Sussex high spots

One Sussex farming family came to the rescue recently

when the Farm Womens Club received a rather out-of-the-

ordinary request. FWC organiser Jean Howells reports

A REQUEST by a Japanese tour operator for a farm for technical advisers from his country to visit posed a slight problem because it had to be in reach of London.

The party was on a whistle-stop tour of Europe to glean ideas of how to encourage young people in Japan to stay farming the land.

I picked on the Passmores at Church Farm, Coombes, West Sussex, and what a wise choice that was.

Jenny, the daughter of Sussex FWC contact leader Mary, is used to showing visitors around their 420ha (1039 acres) on the South Downs.

She is an expert guide and explained how the family has farmed the land for the last 100 years and how life has changed for them. Jenny told the visitors how she and her brother, Trevor, run the farm while her husband is employed elsewhere.

They have 800 ewes and 120 beef cattle with calves and because it is an environmentally sensitive area no fertilisers can be used on the Downs. They are growing lucerne to supplement the feed.

The average size of the Japanese farms that these visitors are dealing with is just 1ha (2.5 acres) so they were very busy filming the fantastic views across the flood plains towards Lewes.

We passed the fishing lakes and the visitors were very amused to learn that the roach, perch and carp are all thrown back in. A couple of pheasants wandered across our path and a discussion arose about shooting. We drove higher past Dads Folly an area of woodland that Dick Passmore had planted before conservation areas became fashionable.

&#42 Highest point

When we reached the highest point above Coombes we enjoyed the most beautiful sunset and the cameras clicked again. Our visitors were pleased to return to the warmth of Marys kitchen for more discussion in front of the Aga. There the youngest member of the family, aged 6, had set up his toy farm for us all to see – his hope for the future is to carry on farming.