Wragby area farmer discovers the good life after furlough

A West Torrington woman furloughed during lockdown has given up her office job in favour of the good life down on the farm.

Demelza Hoban has swapped the office for the farrm EMN-210508-105215001

Demelza Hoban previously worked at Thorne Beehives at Rand but was able to leave the office for good thanks to the rising demand for staycations.

Last year, Demelza set up a ‘pop-up’ campsite on a six-acre paddock at her farm near Wragby, taking advantage of rule changes enabling farmers and landowners to operate a campsite without planning permission for up to 56 days.

The change in law, which extended the right from 28 days, was implemented to help the rural economy recover from the covid pandemic.

Dan Yates EMN-210508-105156001

This year, with demand for British holidays skyrocketing, Demelza has once again opened her farm to campers.

And with bookings at an all-time high, she has been able to jack in the day job for good and do what she has always wanted – be more involved with the running of the farm.

She said: “The farm has been in the family since the 1940s and last year we were looking to diversify.

“We saw the rules around operating campsites had been extended to 56 days, so decided to give camping and glamping a go.

“We tapped into the water supply and hired some portaloos.

“I was worried it was a bit too off grid at first, but I needn’t have been – people absolutely loved it.”

The move comes after figures by Pitchup.com reveal farmers and landowners can earn up to £50,000 by opening a temporary campsite during the holiday season.

Demelza registered her campsite – Grange Paddock Camping – on Pitchup.com and was soon full up with visitors.

She said: “Running a campsite is the easiest and quickest form of farm diversification and offers a great way of helping rural communities recover from the COVID pandemic.

“It doesn’t interfere with the day-to-day farm operations.

“We have 350 acres of arable and my son Oscar has a small flock of Kerry Hill x Suffolk ewes. But we can manage everything – even harvest – with the campsite up and running.”

Demelza added: “Setting up the campsite is one of the best decisions we’ve made.

“I can’t believe it has enabled me to give up my office job to concentrate on my real passion, the farm.”

Dan Yates, founder of Pitchup.com – Europe’s largest outdoor accommodation provider – said the Government’s decision to implement the 56-day ruling was a real boon for the rural economy.

He added that the business’s ‘Carry On Camping’ campaign – run this summer with support from the NFU and Countryside Alliance – led to this being extended further.

As a result, farms and land-based businesses are effectively able to operate campsites to the end of October 2021, as long as they: “do not have an adverse impact on amenity, public health and safety or the environment”.

Mr Yates said: “Staycations have seen a surge in popularity over recent years and this trend will only get stronger.

“At the same time, agriculture is facing a less certain future as the Basic Payment Scheme is phased out from this year, meaning farm incomes could fall. Temporary campsites are a fantastic way of generating significant extra revenue with very little investment and next to no disruption .

“And with campsites potentially able to operate until the end of October without planning permission, there is still plenty of time to set one up and benefit from this huge growth market.”

• Interested farmers and landowners can find out more at www.pitchup.com or call 0203 743 9975.