Sussex dairy farmer Gillian van der Meer has designed an exhibit for next month’s Hampton Court Palace Flower Show celebrating agriculture and horticulture in the UK.
Gillian’s commission, which is 1250sq m, is called Home Grown and was designed by her in conjunction with Jon Wheatley and Mary Payne.
It is a snapshot of today’s agricultural landscape in England and highlights the diversity of produce which can be grown here and the merits of sourcing local produce in an age of rising world population and climate change.
Gillian, who is deputy chair of East Sussex NFU, was commissioned nine months ago to create this integral part of the showground and has sourced much of the content from NFU members.
Visitors to the show, which runs from 6-11 July, enter the Home Grown area through fields of crops and a modern orchard, which contrasts with a market garden beyond.
Its crops are bounded by a species-rich hedgerow, with the odd semi-mature tree or shrub, with an under-storey of hedgerow flowers.
A Sussex chestnut post and rail fence completes the boundary, beside an insect-friendly wildflower margin. These features demonstrate the farmer’s role as both primary food producer and custodian of the environment, providing wildlife with food and shelter.
A New Holland tractor with baler, complete with straw bale, takes pride of place beside the cereal crops, reminding people that the countryside is a productive, working environment.
A public footpath through the crops symbolises the amenity value of the countryside. The visitor can walk through crops of sunflower, wheat, barley, oats and maize to an area of commercial apple production.
The apples are grown on a trellis system for maximum yield and ease of harvesting – pollen and nectar strips encourage insect pollination.
A smaller orchard tractor with apple-picking train, symbolises quality food for the consumer, few food miles, employment and the economic importance of UK agriculture.
Within the market garden is a traditional orchard, complete with “live” beehives, a chicken run and a diverse collection of fruit, vegetables and cut flowers.