White House Farm continues to diversify with £600,000 business unit development
- Credit: Archant
A growing enterprise on the outskirts of Norwich has continued to diversify away from its fruit-farming roots by investing £600,000 in a courtyard of new business units.
White House Farm, off Blue Boar Lane in Sprowston, was a traditional pick-your-own business when Oliver and Charlotte Gurney took over the family farm in 2013.
Since then, the couple have incorporated a café and farm shop, with a butcher's counter also added last year to broaden the firm's seasonality.
Now, in an effort to further 'future-proof' the business, some redundant barns have been converted into commercial units which are already occupied by a florist, a beautician, a hairdresser, a dance studio and a gift shop – with a nursery due to arrive in April.
Mrs Gurney said she hoped to build on the footfall already generated by the farm's retail operations, and take advantage of potential new customers in the hundreds of new homes being developed around the farm.
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She said: 'The houses are going up left and right around us and soon we will be connected with a new road to Wroxham Road and Salhouse Road.
'It could have been a threat – we have a real oasis here and you cannot imagine a more beautiful rural setting. But it is a dual-edged sword. There will be thousands more people who will be able to walk or cycle here, and Oliver and I have worked really hard to have a dynamic range of businesses which all complement each other.
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'It makes me much happier to know we have built something that other people want to come to. It is about future-proofing the whole thing, that's the name of the game.'
Mrs Gurney said the eventual goal would be to supersede the fruit-growing operation from which the business originally grew.
'When we came here, the fruit farming had a handsome turnover but zero profit, because of the cost of labour and irrigation,' she said.
'It has given us a brand and a following, and I am very grateful for that. But without a doubt we have to steer the business this way because fruit farming is not the answer.
'Given our proximity to Norwich, diversifying and re-using these crumbling barns has been the sensible thing to do.'
The new units will officially open on Saturday February 18, when the farm will also be hosting its regular Farmers' Market.