WHO SAYS THEY DONT INNOVATE IN THE UK?
500,000 visitors a year to an interactive farm, where children under 8 are encouraged to feed animals, participate in potato digging events and get their hands dirty, a pumpkin festival, experience livestock "birthing", playing in a mega sandpit...you name it, Willow Farms at Hertfordshire (www.willowsfarmvillage.com) is the amazing "theme park" style attraction that has been created by an entrepreneurial British couple.
From humble begininings 10 years ago they have created this massive tourist attraction and were voted last week as UK No 1 attraction, and how lucky were we to have an afternoon with one of the owners....
Basically they have captured the minds and $$ of the local satellite cities (it is about an hour from London) and for a family membership of 28 pounds per month families can use the facilities as much as they wish, or alternatively entry costs are 14 pound per person for a one off visit.
What a great social innovation...busy parents who feel guilty about working full time and will spend $$ on taking their children for interactive, hands on experiences (most these kids dont have a back yard), or they have Nannys who look after the children and will participate in a family membership knowing their children will be taken to Willow Farm and get fresh air and exercise, plus unique experiences......all of this was some run down chicken sheds 10 years ago....not only do they get the entrance fees, but also add value with fast food (they tried healthy food and customers didnt buy it...so they listened to the clients and it was back to fast food), a shop that you walk through to leave "Willow Farm", with lots of fabulous trinkets...all within childrens reach...how I remember that once Bryce and Jess had something in their hand, it was very difficult to extract...so you end up buying!!!
These guys came as assistant farm managers in early 2000 and I would guess they are now multi millionaires and have fingers in many pies, including a land tenancy (rent of land, a fascinating model of farming here that goes through many hands and ultimately a Lord "someone" receives the money, tenancy can be for 20 years or say 3 generations), a share in a waste disposal for the city of Hertfordshire on the tenanted land, commercial rental properties out of old dairy buildings again on the tenanted land, and many more investments, all from being land tenants and thinking outside the square.
Their real passion lays with farming and at the end of the day what a great concept where they are sharing with others the joy of being part of a farm, and taking children on a journey of education about farming that they otherwise wouldnt understand, they are building the farming story for the next generation...maybe this is how we protect agriculture into the future, so this generation and the next and next understand the value of what we do, and pay$$ for that value......and the husband and wife owners............ they are having fun and are making some great money whilst doing it!!
|Its cold................... about 15 layers of clothes and checking out a canola crop....|