By Jacqueline Elmore
When we think of the hymn We Plough the Fields and Scatter the image that we often conjure up is one of a tractor turning over the soil preparing for harvest.
Most of the terrain surrounding Laines Organic Farm right here in Cuckfield is cultivated by hand, not by machinery. Largely by Toos Jeuken, a Dutch farmer who arrived in West Sussex not long after Britain joined the European Union.
Toos explains: “We came to Cuckfield after the UK entered the EU. That’s why many Dutch farmers came to England at that time. Suddenly there was a great opportunity for farmers to grow things here.”
Right now the subject of the EU may be a contentious one but, standing in a sunny field of giant kale, Toos finds some humour amidst all of the panic: “Do you think they might send me back to Holland now that we’re leaving the European Union?”
All joking aside, Toos doesn’t appear to be overly concerned about her passport status. Instead her motivation is clear; to ensure that her crops are protected and well nurtured in time for harvest.
Toos arrived in Cuckfield in 1977 - a year after her father bought the farm with the sole aim of using it to grow vegetables.
The landscape of Laines Organic Farm has changed over four decades. “They built the Cuckfield bypass in 1989,” she explained, “and that split the farm in half. My Dad also sold the old house and some of the land so I now own 20 acres but that’s more than enough to grow the sorts of vegetables we need.”
Full article printed in the March 2019 issue of Cuckfield Life magazine