Meet the Producers - Laurence J Betts

Posted by Steve Oram on

 Founded in 1930, Laurence J Betts is a family farm based out of West Malling (Only 6 miles from us!). The family have a long and storied history at the Church Farm site which has had periods of Romney sheep, dairy cattle, and pigs alongside salad and vegetable growing before transitioning to full-time salad growing in the 80s. Now run by Stephen J Betts and Ian S Betts, the fourth generation of the Betts family to do so. 
A commitment to the environment is a key component to daily operations for the farm, and something that we at Kent Veg Box align with. It is understood that the business is heavily reliant on the environment and so success can only be measured if that success can continue for generations of food production. Sustainability is, rightly so, becoming more and more to the forefront of the consumers mind and LJ Betts is keenly aware of their responsibilities.
 We have worked with LJ Betts for over 10 years and in that time seen the growth regarding concern for the sustainability of their operation. Non-recyclable plastics have been moved away from, and any bag you receive from them is now widely recycled polypropylene. This is an ongoing process and diligently work with us and other suppliers to see what they can do to improve.
 Outside of just packaging there has been a huge push across all operations, including an investment in solar panels to bring the grid electricity usage of the farm down. Reservoirs have also been invested in to increase water capacity across sites.
As well as looking at the source of the farm’s energy, they’ve also looked at trying to become more efficient with the energy they are using. In 2014, they invested heavily in new cold stores with better use of technology to drive down usage. Once again, this is continually being looked at year on year.
 On the farm itself they’re continually looking at areas to help local wildlife. They are encouraging and sowing wildflowers to encourage habitation for all manner of bugs and bees. Rare wildflowers have been spotted on the site, as well as the introduction of bees and other planet-friendly wildlife. Working with the RSPB, they’ve also seen an increase in birds of prey on site. Actively encouraging safe areas for ground-nesting birds as well as installing nest boxes for owls.
These examples are not a scattergun approach and they’re following a multi-year Farm Biodiversity and Sustainability plan which is continual assessment and improvement year on year.
Our partnership has grown over the last decade and you can clearly see why. The values of the farm, and ours are keenly aligned.
The produce, as you will know, is always of the highest standard. The different lettuce heads, spinach and baby kale is always picked on the morning we collect. It’s in your hands always a maximum of 4 days of it still being in the soil. This is key to not only great tasting salads, but peak nutritional value as well.
Expect to see Romaine, Little gem, Cos and Iceberg lettuce heads in your boxes. There are also some lettuce you may not be accustomed to with Lollo Rosso (Pictured), a non-hearting, loose red leaf lettuce with a crinkly and creased leaf texture. A range of babyleaf salads will also be present throughout the season, including spinach, baby kale, red and chard. 
We hope you love the produce as much as we do!

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