Published: 12:00, 21 October 2021
Good things come to those who wait - and for the couple who own eco farm Frasers, it's been a wait of more than three decades.
The 300-acre site near Egerton, which has been announced as the winner of a Kent Excellence in Business Award (KEiBA) today for its commitment to the environment, was acquired by the Fraser family in 1958 as a dairy farm with two herds of cows.
Today, after a very gradual transformation, which has happened, ironically, organically over time, it now has a restaurant and accommodation that sleeps 20 over three luxurious buildings.
Lisa Fraser, who runs the business with husband, Adam, whose family bought it back in the 50s, said the literal hidden gem - it is down a country lane, and the inconspicuous turning could easily be missed - is poised for bigger things.
"My business is like a flower that is just about to bloom," she said.
"I have always had an interest in sustainability and eco things and we have diversified over 30 years."
Lisa was taking a law degree in London when the couple met - they were married just 12 weeks later. Moving to the family farm at Egerton, the green shoots of the business began to appear when Lisa started cooking and selling her produce at local farmers' markets.
A working mum, who now strongly believes in flexibility for her staff, said: "I was cooking for the farmers' markets on my own - you can imagine the chaos at 4am!"
By the early 90s the couple had renovated two properties on the site as accommodation. Next came catering for commercial events in the 2000s and, more recently, weddings.
But all the while she had an eye on being eco-friendly and sustainability. Always using local businesses and produce, she only employs local staff and is vigilant about not having waste. Diners at the restaurant must pre-order so there is no waste and everything is recycled - for Stags Barn, a rustic yet contemporary place to stay converted from a cattle barn, there is a cave of eco wonders behind housing a place where rainwater is harvested and an air source heat pump, among other high tech, energy-saving gadgets.
On the wider estate, Lisa has been busy rewilding, with wild bird seed spread over five acres and three acres with pollenator mix.
There are two nature trails; beehives; six miles of public footpaths and a newt pond in the centre.
She said proudly: "We recently had a wedding here where every vegetable for the meals came from the garden here."
"We are absolutely inundated with wildlife on the farm. My view though is that we are only custodians of it. We don't really own it. What I am trying to do is leave it better than we took it over."
During the pandemic, she also acted as a local food hub, supplying local produce for hers and other businesses - something which has continued. She also intends to provide hampers and will be staging Relax, Recharge and Reconnect workshops, as well as Christmas wreath workshops - floristry is, incidentally, another string to her bow.
Now employing 10 full time staff and up to eight part time, the business provides a little bit of everything, genuinely in the middle of nowhere. To find out more click here, call 01233 756122 or email email@example.com