The Harrold family has farmed Heydon Grove Farm in Norfolk since 1957. Rory was born there, and so were his son and daughter. As with many farms, they needed to look for a further independent income stream and explore different ideas for diversification. After seeing an advert online about diversifying with a farm stay glamping product, Rory got in touch with Feather Down Farms. Now in their 3rd season, Rory shares the highs and lows.
What is the primary nature of Heydon Grove, and how much farmland do you own?
Heydon Grove is an arable farm of barley, beet, and hay. We have 350 acres of our own and farm a further 350 acres for other local farms.
What did the process with Feather Down farms involve?
Initially, I had a phone call with one of the team and we chatted about the farm, the location, and the area. Then one of the team came and visited the farm and we looked at the potential areas where we could position the canvas hideaways, the positioning of car park, the honesty shop, and how else we could make the site the most appealing for guests.
The planning process for permission and permits then begins and can be lengthy. The approved planning stays with the farm now and has added real value.
What was the most difficult thing about the planning process?
Highways caused some issues, stating there would be too much traffic. We made some adaptions to the entrance, which was then accepted.
What did you like about the Feather Down brand and concept?
I liked the simple design of the tents, the booking system, and the close contact and support with the team. It would have been daunting doing it alone, and out of my knowledge areas.
What is your favourite guest memory so far?
Just seeing the guests go home relaxed and happy. The children often leave notes, and we love that.
How does the future look?
Having many people book return visits, we look forward to building the reputation of Heydon Grove. We have met some very interesting people and look forward to the next season. We also have miniature donkeys arriving for the 2024 season which will be the perfect addition to a farm stay at Heydon Grove.
What is your top tip for another farmer looking to diversify with Feather Down?
Ensure you have a good cleaning team, consider what extras work for you and you can consistently provide during the season, stock shop with basics and local produce, and learn how to cook pizza! The booking extras, honesty shop, and pizza nights are revenue that is 100% for the farmer so you make what you put into it. But it is important you can sustain the levels for the full season.