There’s no more colourful or picturesque a season than the autumn and two of the most exciting events in the calendar for many, has to be Halloween and Christmas. For one Massey Ferguson customer, it’s what their business is all about!
Foxes Farm Produce grows pumpkins and Christmas trees at a number of locations in Essex – the brainchild and now the business of Guy and Emily French. It is also an operation where the new generation of Massey Ferguson machines is making a difference.
Guy explains: “We grow around 30 acres of pumpkins and a similar area of Christmas trees at several locations in the north and south of the county. We grow no other crops, but we’re both from arable farming backgrounds – mine near Colchester, Emily’s from Billericay – and the business is just the two of us.
“We run one main tractor – a MF 5610. This does all our day-to-day work, with others hired in during busy periods when required. Other machinery, in terms of the implements we use, is quite specialist to the two crops,
The French’s have owned the MF 5610 since March 2015, when it assumed the pivotal role in cultivations, harvesting and hauling. “We were new to Massey Ferguson,” Guy recalls, “having previously run a New Holland.
“I had been a bit sceptical about Massey Ferguson, as I’d previously driven one of the ‘old school’ models. Today, however, they are brilliant and have come a long way. They’re also much better value for money than others on the market.
“I love this tractor – or ‘the pocket rocket’, as I call it – because it’s got so much power for a small model. The 5610 is the perfect model for us in the 100hp area, where we had looked at second-hand options and couldn’t find one at a reasonable price or that hadn’t seen better days.
“I’m particularly impressed by the comfort and power for a small 3-cylinder tractor, its durability, cab and mostly the gearbox, which makes driving it so easy. I also like the clutchless braking, particularly when we are harvesting pumpkins. It’s also very fuel-efficient – again, I just love it!”
The business has been growing Christmas trees and pumpkins on four sites in Essex since 2010, having previously experimented with other vegetable crops. “This is where we saw our markets,” states Guy. “Essex is a great county to be doing this as it gives us a relatively high population on our doorstep.
“However, the pumpkins that we grow are sold and distributed all over the UK, with a proportion marketed by ourselves through the website, foxesfarmproduce.co.uk.
This year we have set up two pick-your-own pumpkin patches for the public to come and choose the ones they like best.”
To date, the business has sold the Christmas trees direct to the public from a retail site at Upminster, but, owing to the longevity involved in growing them, the decision has recently been taken to start a wholesaling operation.
“Both crops are horticultural by nature and require intensive husbandry through cultivation and agronomy on a monthly basis,” Guy explains.
He is almost as enthusiastic about the after-sales experience he’s had from Mark Weatherhead Ltd as he is with the MF 5610. “Just excellent,” he reports. “We had not used them before, as they are slightly out of our area, but Rob Sykes, our Weatherhead sales rep – who I had got to know through young farmers – said he would come and see me, once he knew that we were thinking about a new tractor. Once he’d put the demonstration model in for a trial and offered attractive terms on the finance and warranty, he managed to convince me!
“As a dealership, they are really good and always come out when needed. Everyone is very friendly and I would recommend the firm to anyone.
“From someone who had never used them before, I’ve turned into a big Massey Ferguson fan. Rob even drops parts off on his way home!”