FW Mansfield & Son, the UK’s biggest fruit-growing firm with bases spread across the county, has snapped up a further 110 ha of farmland on the south side of the Canterbury in Nackington. This expansion is set to provide the biggest local jobs boost in recent times.
A spokesperson says the move will create 80 new jobs, with some employees housed in 20 new six-berth caravans on a neighbouring site. While Mansfields has historically relied on Eastern European labourers, it expects the roles to be taken by locals left unemployed by the impact of Covid-19.
It is hoping to attract a huge number of applications in what it is describing as the district’s biggest employment boost in recent times. The new employees will be based at Middle Pett Farm, an existing Mansfields branch outside Bridge. They are set to work picking fruit on the neighbouring fields at Nackington Farm, which the business has just acquired on a 20-year lease.
Managing director Paul Mansfield, who oversees the firm’s operation of 1.7 million trees across 1,480 acres of Kent countryside, has submitted the additional caravan plans to Canterbury City Council.
Kentonline.co.uk cited documents stating: “While FW Mansfield & Son actively try to recruit to employ local labour, the local populace has been unwilling in the past to take the jobs on offer. This is experienced throughout the agricultural economy but given the outbreak of Covid-19 and the subsequent job losses, particularly in the hospitality sector, it is possible that more of the farm workforce will be recruited in the UK.”
“In the 2020 season, more than 100 local people have joined the farm workforce, some of whom have taken accommodation from the farm. It is envisaged that the addition of the 275 acres of land to that currently farmed by the applicant will create the equivalent of 80 full-time jobs within the district.”