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St John’s College - part of weston hills

Simon Earl looking after winter jobs on his farm at Weston Hills. Photo: SG060213-111NG

Simon Earl looking after winter jobs on his farm at Weston Hills. Photo: SG060213-111NG

A small part of St John’s College Cambridge has been established on land on the edge of Weston Hills since 1820.

That’s when the college purchased a strip of land from Ashgrove Farm, now rented back to the current owner Simon Earl.

Simon says it’s just a parcel of the college’s 15,000 acres spread across Kent and Lincolnshire to produce an income for the university.

The land takes up a small amount of Simon’s 660 acres, where he grows potatoes, wheat and sugar beet.

He inherited the farm from his late father, Robert, who moved there when he married during World War Two.

Simon hopes in time it will continue in the family with his daughter, now aged 11, but already showing a keen interest.

It’s not a job that has been easy during the past year, which Simon describes as “the worst” for 40 years in terms of weather.

He said: “It’s been a struggle, an extremely difficult season with the wet autumn and winter.

“We were still busy recently getting some of the wet land ploughed ready for the crops. We have got all the wheat drilled, but some of it’s a bit dodgy. We have one field we may have to plough up.”

The team will assess the situation shortly, but in the meantime, like many growers, it’s time to tackle winter jobs such as tree trimming, yard gravelling and machinery maintenance, as well as delivering hay and straw to local horse owners.

 

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