A Kentish farmer is now on a mission to ensure ‘cobnuts’ retain their market and to preserve what is a long-standing traditional product.
Tom Cannon is the third generation involved in his family farm at Roughway Farm in Kent, launching the farm online to provide fresh produce such as Cherries and Kent Cobnuts directly to the customer.
Kentish hazelnut production, variants of which are known as Kentish Cobnuts, have led to unique landscapes within the county and across the country and preserving this industry is important for the rural economy and environment, although many traditional orchards have been lost to neglect, grubbing up and development.
Mr Cannon has won a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust research grant to investigate hazelnut production throughout the northern and southern hemispheres.
Visiting Turkey, China, USA, Australia and New Zealand, he plans to find out how other countries farm and market the crop, how it can form a useful diversification enterprise and its place in communities and local economies.
“The overall aim of the project is to make sure that the humble Kentish Cobnut remains a well marketed product that is popular with the buying public,” he said.
Speaking on receiving the award Mr Cannon said: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel, learn and meet so many interesting people from all over the world.
“I am honoured to be given the chance to bring back valuable knowledge to the UK for the benefit of our cobnutsector, rural economy, history, environment and landscape.
“I see this as such an important mission and it is also excellent to be contributing to Winston Churchill’s living legacy. I hope I can also inspire others to apply for their own Churchill Fellowships. I can’t wait for my global adventure to begin.”
The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust runs the Churchill Fellowships, a programme of overseas research grants.
Every year WCMT award 150 Fellowships. Mr Cannon’s project is in the ‘rural living - strengthening countryside communities’ category. Applications for 2020 are now open.
Details of Tom’s trip and the project can be found here: cobnutproject.co.uk/