Howard Chapman Ltd (HCL) was originally a stand in the Old Covent Garden Market, selling produce from South America that had been shipped across by the Blue Star shipping line, together with meat due for Liverpool Docks.
It was decided that HCL needed some seasonal produce from the UK. This was when the farm in Kent was bought. To start with crops were grown to suit the seasonality but gradually over the years the farm focused on what it did best which was top fruit growing.
Broadwater has an underground spring which flows under the farm. This water is available to the tree roots extensively. This means that we can grow very good quality fruit of particularly good size.
In 2009 we extended one of our existing stores to include some good quality CA storage mainly for Bramley, which can now be kept in a 5 and 1 atmosphere. This has extended our storage so we can store all year round. Our total capacity is around 2000 tons.
We have embarked on a programme of planting in recent years which has seen the emphasis change from mainly culinary to 70% desert. In total we farm around 170 ha, of which, 85 ha is apples.
Also we have recently grubbed a large unproductive area of fruit and now have an arable operation. This is also to provide flexibility and creates a rotation for our fruit crops.
In 2011, we commissioned an 83kw solar array on our cold stores. This is providing power directly to our cold store plant with any excess being returned to the grid.
We also have a voltage optimiser which reduces the incoming current to 220v saving around 15% of our energy usage.
The farm borders the old West Malling Aerodrome, which was a very important air base during WWII and up until 20 years ago hosted a very popular air show. There is also evidence of the Pluto Line (Pipe Line Under the Sea), built in 1944 to supply advancing troops in France, for operation Overlord, during the allied invasion of Normandy.