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Hugh Lowe Farm in Mereworth sends a million strawberries to Wimbledon tennis tournament

The Wimbledon tennis championships officially get under way on Monday.

But when the crowds settle into their seats at the All England Club, they will have not only the tennis to enjoy but also delicious punnets of strawberries - grown right here in Kent.

Hugh Lowe Farms, based at Mereworth, has been supplying the strawberries for the world’s oldest tennis tournament for the past 30 years.

Each year, it is estimated that the players and fans consume about one million strawberries.

Last year was a record for the farm that has been in the same family for five generations, with 40 tons sent to the championship.

The farm’s owner and director, Marion Regan, 63, is hoping that with favourable weather, this year’s sales might be even better.

The farm grows its fruit in polytunnels in a coconut fibre medium, picking between April and November. Wimbledon may be their most prestigious customer, but it is only one of many.

Marion Regan from Hugh Lowe Farms
Marion Regan from Hugh Lowe Farms
Strawberries destined for the championship
Strawberries destined for the championship

The farm also supplies most major supermarkets and numerous famshops.Their total harvest often reaches 5,000 tons of strawberries. But they additionally grow raspberries and blackberries.

Mrs Regan said the twin problems of finding migrant labour to pick the fruit and dealing with climate change were a challenge.

She said: “Hotter temperatures and more sunshine can be good for us, but extreme weather events, like storms, less so; then there is the question of water shortages.”

But she was confident for the future. She said: “We haven’t been farming for 130 years without learning how to adapt.”

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