A day in the life of ... Peter Reeves, blackcurrant farmer

PUBLISHED: 12:09 14 September 2011 | UPDATED: 19:58 20 February 2013

Peter Reeves, blackcurrant farmer

Peter Reeves, blackcurrant farmer

Continuing our series 'down on the farm', we meet blackcurrant farmer Peter Reeves to hear all about his typical working day

Words by Pat Crawford pictures by Manu Palomeque


Name: Peter John Reeves


Job title: Partner in F.J. Reeves and Partners


Where: Kent/Sussex borders. The boundary runs along the northern shore of Bewl Water and almost all the farm is in Kent



What sort of farm is it?


Primarily blackcurrants, top fruit, cereals and grapes.



At what age did you start?


My family has been farming since the 1700s and we have farmed here since 1860. You could say farming is in my blood.



Who inspired you?


Family tradition.



Your training?


I obtained a BSc (Hons) degree in Agriculture Economics at Reading and later undertook fruit-related courses at Hadlow College.



Describe your working day


Every day is different, much depending on the season. A typical Tuesday during blackcurrant picking would involve a Business Network International breakfast meeting at 6.30am at Salomons. Usually there will be about 30 of us and we are each allowed a 60-second slot. I might talk about a new product or seek fresh marketing opportunities, anything that would benefit business development. Afterwards, because I am already in the area, I deliver Arena Gold and Arena Black, two of our own brands of fruit juice, to clients in Tunbridge Wells.


When I get back to the farm, I call in to make certain that the picking machinery is all running OK. I then go to check that everything is well with a schools group involved in an Arena Pursuits visit. After that I give a hand with harvesting the blackcurrants. I drive the full trailer (about 8.5 tons of blackcurrants) back to the unloading area, carry out quality control checks, undertake the labelling and other crucial details. Then I very likely fit in a tour for a group of potential corporate clients. Occasionally this will include giving them lunch but, more often than not, I will grab a sandwich on-the-hoof.


Dealing with something like 60-70 emails a day takes up a fair amount of my time. I also deal with the online orders.



Tell us about the farm itself


Its just over 300 acres, about 13 acres of which are devoted to the vineyard where we produce champagne varieties for Chapel Down. Top fruit is primarily apple varieties used in our Arena Gold and Arena Black juices. In a typical year, we grow two per cent of all the blackcurrants that go into making Ribena.


The 70 acres of woodland we use for our diversification project, Arena Pursuits, which is an outdoor activity centre. We specialise in corporate team-building events and social groups of varying ages from as young as six. We are popular for stag and hen and childrens parties, school groups and different types of clubs. We also offer bushcraft and survival, a wide range of country sports including archery and clay pigeon shooting and a lot more besides!



How do you market your produce?


As well as supplying GlaxoSmithKlein, we export blackcurrants to Western Europe. Our 100 per cent fruit juices all made with farm-produced fruit are available in an increasing number of farm shops and other retailers.



Do you have children following in your footsteps?


No, but my mother Jenni, my brother Michael and his wife Veronika, her brother Vasek and his girlfriend, my cousin and three of my nieces are all involved part-time or occasionally, as needed. Its a real family affair!



Marks out of 10 for job satisfaction?


A little bit less office work and little bit more money would warrant a 10!


GET IN TOUCH


F.J. Reeves and Partners, Rosemary House, Flimwell TN5 7PT


Tel symbol: 01580 879614 and 07710 111800

More from People

If you’re planning a wedding in Kent, check out these wedding venues which will be perfect for 2021

Read more

She has been a mainstay of BBC soap EastEnders for 35 years, playing the much-loved character Dot Cotton, but June Brown says she’d rather be in Folkestone now than Walford

Read more

Test your knowledge of Kent with our bumper sized 100 question quiz with a distinctly Kentish theme

Read more

Freemasonry has existed for more than 300 years, welcomes men from all weeks of life and supports many charities - yet the myths persist. Kent Life finds out why

Read more
Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Take a step back in time to the good old days with these vintage videos from around Kent

Read more

We’re all familiar with blue plaques, but could Kent Life come up with 10 notable births in our county – avoiding the most obvious ones? See if you agree

Read more

Join us on a literary journey around the Kent coast to see how it has inspired writers over the centuries

Read more
Wednesday, May 6, 2020

We very rarely have a conversation about wills because people don’t like talking about death. Actually though, a will is about securing the future of your loved ones you leave behind

Read more
Tuesday, May 5, 2020

This year marks the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, the day that formally recognised Nazi Germany’s surrender - so we gathered some beautiful old videos that capture the celebratory atmosphere of that first VE Day in 1945

Read more

May 2020 marks 80 years since Operation Dynamo and the anniversary is being remembered on both sides of the Channel

Read more
Kent Life Food & Drink awards. Open for entries.

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook


Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Most Read

Latest from the Kent Life