Matthew’s father set up Somerleigh Farms in the late 60’s when they moved to the west of Jersey. His family had been working in the farming industry for several generations and it is still family-run business today. For the Lamy family, farming is not just a career but a way of life that they are immensely proud of. They work to ensure the traditional farming methods are preserved, from field to plate.
Somerleigh Farms stretches from the furthest point west to the furthest point east on the island. The farm demonstrates a strong commitment to protecting the island’s environment and always actively seeks new ways in which to enhance the island’s countryside for the benefit of the community. Matt and his family feel extremely privileged to work and live on such a beautiful island.
The farm conducts annual energy and environmental audits and is constantly looking at ways in which to improve its energy efficiency and to reduce its environmental impact. In 2014, Somerleigh Farms completed a large project installing solar panels at the base in St Peter which will ensure the energy needs of the business are met in an environmentally friendly way in the future.
The majority of the Jersey Royal seed is hand planted out of traditional wooden boxes and begins on the early slopes in the first weeks of January and then progresses through February, with final seeds being planted for the following season’s Ware crop. Somerleigh Farms continues the local tradition of the collection of ‘vraic’ (seaweed) in order to improve the organic matter in the soil and to enhance the flavour of the Jersey Royal.
Harvesting begins by hand on the early slopes in early April and then into the fields using specialist mechanical harvesters designed to lift the new early crop as gently as can be! During the harvest, the workers start early to ensure optimum freshness and to minimize damage to the crop whilst maintaining the natural flaky skin of the Jersey Royal. All this attention to detail helps in delivering the best quality Jersey Royals to the supermarket shelf.
Matt and his family are very proud to be keeping the family tradition alive and share the same attitude and enthusiasm of “live, breath, eat and sleep the Jersey Royal Potato!”. Their goal is to continue to function as a family-fronted business for future generations, working as a team to face farming challenges whilst acting as custodians of the countryside.
After a hard day’s work, the family enjoys sitting down together to savour Jersey Royals, gently boiled and served with a knob of Jersey butter and fresh mint.
Today, Somerleigh Farms is a significant island farming business which employs approximately 35-40 seasonal staff in peak season. The Jersey Royals produced are distributed through the Albert Bartlett group to major UK retailers including Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Lidl. The farm at Somerleigh provides the hub for the production and processing of the potatoes. It also has a British Retail Consortium accredited pack house. This enables the farm to grade its own potatoes along with potatoes from other growers. Somerleigh Farms is also LEAF Marque and Red Tractor accredited. The farm produces a significant quantity of daffodils and bulbs which are primarily exported to wholesalers and multiples in the UK and locally. The farm is also an eco-active member.
Somerleigh Farms demonstrates a strong commitment to protecting the island environment and is always actively seeking new ways in which to enhance the island’s countryside for the benefit of the community. For many years it has been involved with the Jersey Countryside Renewal Scheme (CRS). This has included the planting of hedgerows, the creation of cultivated habitat strips and notably the creation of footpaths around coastal land. Prior to the CRS, Somerleigh Farms took part in the ‘West Corridor Tree and Hedge Planting Project’ initially aimed at creating a link for remote populations of squirrels in the southwest of the island but also later proven to benefit a whole range of wildlife including birds, mammals, insects and plants. The farm also works with a local beekeeper to provide areas of land which are suitable for the positioning of beehives. Somerleigh Farms continues to plant new trees and create new hedges. Furthermore, the farm and its associated land base have recently undergone a full environmental audit which identifies special features on the farm and details environmental improvements. Also, the farm is involved with the ‘Birds on the Edge’ project, which supports the active management of Jersey’s coastland in order to restore populations of birds.
Regular school visits on the farm are undertaken and seed potatoes are supplied for them to grow. Also the Jersey Barn Owl Conservation is regularly erecting owl boxes on the farm’s land.