Christian Levett is the 8th generation of the Levett family to farm in the Weald of Kent, following on from his parents, Chris & Sheenagh. Legend has it that, Richard Levett, an arable farmer in Newbury, brought his family to Kent on holiday, saw how profitable hop farming was, promptly sold his farm in Newbury and told his wife to start packing – they were moving to Kent to grow hops! Fruit growing is now the main cropping on the farms, with varieties Gala, Braeburn, Egremont Russet, Cox and Concorde. The ongoing replanting programme was on single row, post and wire system at 2500trees/ha. New plantings are ‘Twin Stem’ trees at higher density to reduce production costs and increase early yields.
Baretilt and Hartley Dyke Farms supply 21.5 hectares of fruit including 4.5 hectares of cherries and the newly purchased Tubs Lake Farm provides another 20 hectares for expansion. In addition they contract farm 14 ha of apples and pears, and 1.5 ha of cherries. There is storage capacity for 270 tons of fruit on the farms.
Like many businesses they have diversified over the years and at Hartley Dyke Farm there is a Farm Shop, Fresh Fishmongers and Hartley Coffee House.