19 May 1998
South west goes for it with flax farming
GROWING numbers of farmers in the south-west have turned their fields over to growing flax straw for the textile market.
Some 6,475.2ha (16,000 acres) are under cultivation in Devon and Cornwall – 25% of all flax grown in the UK.
Christopher Strout, who owns a farm at Boyton, near Launceston, north Cornwall, plans to open a £1 million mill to process flax straw into linen fibres in partnership with Steve Rudkin, a textiles expert from De Montfort University, in Leicester.
They have received £500,000 funding from the European Union. It will employ around nine people directly and help support a further 50 farm jobs.
The mill, which is subject to planning permission, is expected to be operational in September.
The scheme comes at a time when many farmers in the region are diversifying into experimental areas in an attempt to compensate for the slump in incomes from beef, dairy and arable sectors.
- The Guardian 19/05/98 page 21