Farm has cracking future

Christine Jackson, Catherine Armstrong, Chris France and Ian Brown Christine Jackson, Catherine Armstrong, Chris France and Ian Brown

A Northumberland farm is to become region’s first to run a dedicated free-range egg processing facility.

Detchant Farm in Belford will be equipped to grade, pack and brand more than 18 million ‘Sunnyhill’ eggs a year. Until now, farming sisters Christine Jackson and Catherine Armstrong have prepared their eggs for sale in Scotland, which meant taking every batch on a 180 mile round trip.

The project has been made possible through support from The Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE). Through the RDPE, the farm has been granted £96,000 in funding provided by the European Union and Defra and managed by One NorthEast. The farm’s new facilities will also be used by other egg producers, meaning a total of 13 local jobs will be created and safeguarded.

Catherine said: “This grant has allowed us to move our business forward onto the next level and to invest with confidence. Our eggs now travel no food miles which has resulted in us being much more competitive.  Already we have secured new contracts which were previously out of our reach and are working together with other producers and providers in the region.”

With four purpose built hen houses housing a total of 56,000 free range hens, Sunnyhill Free Range Eggs is the foremost producer of free range eggs in the North East. The most recent house, with 16,000 birds, was completed in June and includes a state of the art Natura laying system.

Tenant farmer and One NorthEast Rural Board Member, Ian Brown, said: “With more consumers wanting to ‘buy local’ and understand the journey their food has made to their shopping basket, this is an important addition to the egg supply chain infrastructure and part of the wider work to increase the contribution made by local food to the regional economy.”

For more information on Sunny Hill Eggs, visit www.sunnyhilleggs.com

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