The polytunnel, also known as a hoop greenhouse or hoophouse, is made from polythylene. It functions like a green house, using the sun to extend growing times, enabling fruit and vegetables to be grown all year round. The polytunnel was funded through Edible Essex, a project managed by the Rural Community Council of Essex, which aims to increase the number of people growing and sourcing their own food. Green token nominations were also made by shoppers at Waitrose in Billericay.
Barleylands welcomes 12,000 schoolchildren for education visits each year, and also runs a programme in schools. School children are invited to plant crops in the polytunnel, before being taught to cook with the freshly-picked produce.
According to Karen Watson, Education Officer, “The polytunnel is a great addition to our education programme and visiting schools have enjoyed harvesting vegetables and using them to top their healthy pizzas, made during their visit to the farm.
“It is a really useful tool as it extends the growing season of crops, meaning we can grow crops outside during the summer months and broadens the range of food, farming and cookery demonstrations we provide to children each year.
Mr Henson, who runs a similar farm park in the Cotswolds, enjoyed a tour of Barleylands, before meeting youngsters and officially opening the polytunnel.