Surrey Countryside Champions – Patrick Deeley of Flower Farm
Farmer Patrick Deeley is the owner of the award-winning Flower Farm in Godstone. Nestled in the heart of Surrey, just at the base of the North Downs, the 150-acre family-run farm holds cattle, sheep, pigs, turkeys, chickens, fruit, and vegetables.
And if farming doesn’t keep them busy enough, they also run an onsite farm shop, delivery service, tearoom, and brewery. Flower Farm is an important part of the local community with local residents and those coming from further afield, benefiting from the quality local produce, friendly service, and a rural community hub.
We managed to distract Patrick for a few minutes from his busy life on the farm to ask him some questions.
Thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Can you summarise who you are and what you do?
No problem at all. I’m Farmer Patrick, owner of Flower Farm in Godstone. I’m in charge of running the farm itself, including looking after the animals we have on site and the farm shop which includes a butchery, deli counter, and a tearoom. We have many events here that I run such as Godstoneberry and Oktoberryfest, which are good ways to bring our local community together!
Why is supporting local produce and farming so important?
Supporting local produce and farming is really important. I’m a big believer in helping look after the people and the surroundings of the local area, which is only possible with all of the support Flower Farm gets from this community. It not only keeps money in the local area, but it has a massive positive environmental impact because you have extremely low food miles. The quality and goodness you get from local meat are like no other. Shop local, buy local, stay local.
Flower Farm was named Large Diversification Innovator of the Year (Silver Winner) at the British Farming Awards (2020). Why is diversification important to farming?
Farming, like many businesses, is facing different challenges such as downward pressure from increasing material costs, pressure from retailers on product pricing, as well as retailer wars between themselves over commodities. This has led to agriculture facing financial challenges when it comes to the viability of the business. Therefore, it is necessary to seek other income streams to maintain the viability of the farm. It is worth remembering that agriculture accounts for the majority of the appearance of our rural landscapes.
How can Surrey residents support local farming?
The residents can support local farming by shopping for products produced in Surrey, for example, primary products such as milk, beef, and eggs, or secondary such as beers, wines, and pies. Being supportive of farmers and respecting their rights, makes a farmer’s life as stress-free as possible, as farming is already a very challenging job!
What effect has climate change had on farming?
Direct changes of climate change to our farms are seasonal changes, temperature changes, precipitation changes, and changes to the physical environment i.e., rising sea levels. Indirect changes would be rising energy costs and rising raw material costs such as artificial fertilisers, pesticides, and insecticides. And lastly, political impacts would be tighter restrictions on flexibility and the ability to farm freely and the government imposing restrictions on how and where you plant a crop.
The pandemic must have been very challenging for a busy working farm, how did it impact you?
In a nutshell, the challenges were huge. The farm employs a large team, in all different departments, so there were obvious concerns about the health and well-being of all the members of staff. Being involved with the public, face-to-face daily was very challenging, and required a lot of initiative and thinking outside the box. These were working conditions no one has had to work in before. The challenge of a heavily increased workload due to the shop being busier, led to the development of the online shop. We prioritised giving to the community in a time of need and went from delivering to 10 customers a day to 400.
What makes the Surrey countryside so special?
Surrey has an incredible topography, ranging from flat planes to some of the steepest and highest hills in the UK. This leads to an exciting opportunity for different aspects of agriculture that can be undertaken in Surrey, from growing champagne to watercress and potatoes, or beef, lamb, and poultry. Surrey’s large and relatively affluent population lends itself to many different ways in which people can connect with agriculture. It could be camping on a farmer’s field, attending a festival, picking strawberries, walking a vineyard, purchasing fresh milk, a handmade pie, or a loaf of bread produced from Surrey wheat.
You and your team do amazing work. What’s your favourite Surrey greenspace to explore when you step away from the farm?
My favourite part of the Surrey countryside just happens to be the top of the North Downs above the farm. When I walk or drive up to the top, I look across and I can see for miles. I feel like I could be anywhere! I feel like Leonardo DiCaprio on the Titanic with Kate Winslet, preferably with my very own version of Kate Winslet (I’ve only done this once).
About our Surrey Countryside Champions feature
This is a new feature from the team at CPRE Surrey. We wanted to highlight and celebrate the individuals, businesses, and organisations who are aligned with our mission to promote, enhance and protect the Surrey Countryside.
If you’d like to nominate someone to be featured contact Craig on firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a DM on one of our social media channels.
View all Surrey Countryside Champions here