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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 October, 2003, 12:00 GMT 13:00 UK
Cosmetics 'new face of farming'
Lees Court Estate
Echiam is good for wrinkles and also biodiversity
A woman has found a way to make money from agriculture when many other farmers are counting their losses - by growing flowers for use in cosmetics.

Countess Sondes says she is making a healthy profit from her business and believes that non-food crops are the future for farming.

Kent is one of the few areas in Britain where fruit farming is still a major industry

One of her crops - a flower called echiam - is being grown for its oil.

The oil is extracted and used in lotions that are said to help reduce wrinkles.

Lees Court Estate
Non-food crops can be a haven for wildlife

The countess, who owns the Lees Court Estate, near Faversham, believes that non-food crops such as echiam and other flowers could represent the way forward for not just farmers, but also the environment.

Other changes she has made to boost biodiversity include planting more trees, laying more hedges and leaving more areas to grow wild.

The result is that the farm is home to butterflies and bees, as well as her agricultural crops.

More traditional activities at the farm include the East Kent Ploughing Match which was being held on Wednesday.

But also on display to other farmers were the conservation methods, farm diversification and the cultivation and use of non-food crops.

Now that farming subsidies are being linked to conservation measures, the different approach is being seen by some as the beginning of a possible farming revolution.

MP raises fruit farm concerns
12 Mar 03  |  England


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