£1.5m deal will see Meon Valley orchards swapped for tree nurseries
ORCHARDS in the Meon Valley will be transformed into tree nurseries as part of a business deal.
Hillier Trees, the UK's largest grower of semi-mature trees based in Ampfield, has recently bought Hill Farm, a 100 acre farm in Swanmore for £1.5m.
It plans to grow young trees, before lifting and transplanting at the company’s container and field tree nurseries.
Amenity sales director Adam Dunnett said: ‘We are delighted to be able to announce that we have secured this land at Hill Farm for the production of young trees.
‘The location couldn’t be more perfect, situated exactly halfway between our existing container tree and field tree nurseries in Hampshire and with the perfect soil for growing.’
Hill Farm was sold by previous owner Will Dobson earlier this summer. He also sold the nearly Hill Place, a grade II listed Georgian country villa, in a separate deal.
His business Hill Farm Juice is unaffected and will continue to operate from its Swanmore base, importing apples from other local suppliers rather than growing on the land at Hill Farm.
The acquisition of the land at Hill Farm means Hillier Trees, a family-run business which employs 500 people, now has 800 acres of land across its field tree, container tree and new nurseries.
It also allows for even better control of tree range, quality and will further improve biosecurity, the company said.
Trees will be planted as ‘whips’ and grown at Hill Farm for two years. After this, they will be lifted and transplanted.
Adam said: ‘The demand for British grown trees has probably never been stronger and is only likely to increase with the challenges facing European growers around biosecurity and Brexit.
‘The Hillier board recognised this and have invested in what is already a successful part of the business. This will help safeguard the long term stability of our production and ensure we have the range of high quality, UK grown trees that our customers are seeking.’
The land at Hill Farm is virgin tree growing land, having primarily been used for apple orchards. Hillier said this means it will produce strong tree growth and bigger trees in less time compared to land where trees have grown for decades.
Hillier Trees expects to plant the first trees on this site in early 2021.