Farm of the Week: Early pioneers of farm tourism on the Yorkshire coast now back in the egg business

No hens and no eggs for a year; no egg round; barley not meeting malting specifications; oilseed rape at the mercy of beetles, slugs and pigeons; staycations not quite as popular as they had been immediately out of Covid. East Coast-based third generation farmer Stuart Waind says he hopes 2024 is a bit better than the last couple of years.

William Waind, Stuart’s son, runs the egg business that became no yolk for the past year when avian influenza saw the farm’s 40,000 hens, that lay eggs for the Happy Eggs brand, destroyed.

In November 2023 the restocking of the three hen sheds took place and egg production returned to the 800-acre Marton Manor Farm near Sewerby just north of Bridlington that is mainly arable along with farm shop, tearoom and holiday accommodation.

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“We’ve only recently restocked with our Hyline hens. I couldn’t believe it when it happened though,” says Will, who found himself nominated for two poultry awards just at the time when he didn’t have any poultry on the farm.

Chickens are back on the farm after an avian flu cullChickens are back on the farm after an avian flu cull
Chickens are back on the farm after an avian flu cull

“I’d just kicked off my own brand of Hello Eggs building up a round in the local area that included home delivery and supplying pubs, restaurants, butchers and other outlets. I can now start getting that back on the straight and narrow.

Noble Foods, who we supply their branded Happy Eggs nominated me and I went down to London for the awards evening. It was good to be recognised for what we do, as everything we do is about quality and about looking after the birds.

“We take our hens to 76 weeks and they’re that good that those in the poultry world have commented they look as healthy as when they arrive here at 16 weeks. We spent a lot of money on making sure the sheds were super clean for when they returned. They are all housed in Harlow sheds, which have wooden sides and are naturally ventilated.

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It’s not the first time the Wainds have returned to having hens either. Some years ago they started out with them and they went back to them when Will was returning from his studies and having worked for two seasons on farms out in Australia.

Marton Manor Farm, Sewerby, near Bridlington. Will, Jane, Ellie and Stuart Waind.Marton Manor Farm, Sewerby, near Bridlington. Will, Jane, Ellie and Stuart Waind.
Marton Manor Farm, Sewerby, near Bridlington. Will, Jane, Ellie and Stuart Waind.

“Coming out of the chicken unit we’d had previously hadn’t been our original intention,” says Jane, Stuart’s wife. “We didn’t really want to do it, but it has proved the best thing we ever did, because selling what we had at the time brought about the farm shop and tearoom we have today.

“We bought the chicken unit back in 2018 as it was up for sale and as it was on our land anyway it just made sense and it created a job for William and another income stream for the farm business.

Stuart says that the farm operation at Marton Manor is wholly down to himself and Will.

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“Our land type is generally medium loam and most of it is free draining although you wouldn’t think so just at the moment after all the weather we’ve had, but it is mainly easy working land.

Marton Manor Farm, Sewerby, near Bridlington. 
Stuart Waind in the potato store.Marton Manor Farm, Sewerby, near Bridlington. 
Stuart Waind in the potato store.
Marton Manor Farm, Sewerby, near Bridlington. Stuart Waind in the potato store.

“My grandfather Horace Waind came here in the 1930s. He was a tenant farmer for seven years and in that time saved enough money, knowing the farm would come up for sale, and when he bought it he didn’t have to borrow a penny. My dad William followed him.

“It is an arable farm with just 50 acres of grass given over for our free range hens. We grow winter wheat, winter barley, spring barley, oilseed rape and potatoes.

“Winter wheat is our predominant crop. We grow around 300-350 acres of wheat dependent a little on rotation and we average around 4 tonnes per acre. Our varieties are currently Gleam and Dawsum.

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“We also grow winter barley variety Craft and spring barley variety Laureate with about 100 acres of each. Our barley usually goes into maltsters Muntons just down the road from the farm but not this last year. It wasn’t just ours that was rejected either, it seems that many other farmers’ nitrogen levels were too high, like ours. The crop cost us a lot of money as it all ended up going for feed rather than getting the premium you get for malting barley.

Stuart’s break crops are potatoes and oilseed rape, growing 100 acres of each, and sometimes varying with spring beans when the rotation requires.

“We can grow potatoes on half of our land and we put in oilseed rape instead of potatoes where we can’t grow them. There are some years when it makes sense to put spring beans in, but we didn’t this past year.

“We’ve grown oilseed rape for years and although we’ve suffered like others from the effects of the neonicotinoids ban with always being something that wants to eat it whether it’s flea beetle, slugs or pigeons, I don’t know what to do instead of it.

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“Potatoes have always been a crop that we have grown ourselves and we have all our own planting gear. We use specialist potato harvesting contractors to get them out of the ground. We have grown them for 35 years and this last 6-7 years we have increased our acreage from 40 acres to 100, justifying our investment in our own planting equipment.

“We grow the Melody variety and they go mainly for the prepack market through outlets such as AKP.

The Wainds began their move into tourist-based diversification, using their seaside location in 1999 when they converted a barn into six holiday cottages, with the assistance of a grant from Yorkshire Forward.

“We had to diversify and opened in 2000, starting off with Hoseasons and we are now with,” says Jane. “We also have our own bookings as well, and we still get people who came, right from when we started.

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“Post Covid we were full in all six, every single night but this last year it has been a lot quieter and so we decided this year we would close in November and open again in March. Having worked in hospitality for so long we decided that we needed a bit of time as well. They sleep 2-5 people.

Jane says the farm shop, selling mainly local produce, and the tearoom opened in 2010.

“We’d had what was a little farm shop/shed in the field where we used to have strawberry picking and then we converted another farm building to make what we have today.

“Both our daughters Becky and Ellie, and William, worked in the farm shop and tearoom when they were younger and Ellie, who was a primary school teacher at Thirsk, now runs it all.

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Ellie says there is real pride in selling their own home grown produce of potatoes and eggs and contributing to the family effort.

“We always helped as children and when back from university on weekends and holidays. Mum still works in it a lot too and we do our own home-made baking of such as scones and cakes. We have a strong local following as well as being a popular destination for holidaymakers.

Ellie is married to Richard and the couple have Smith’s Butchers in Bridlington which features Will’s eggs and potatoes.

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