Fruit and vegetable grower and merchant, Stephen Brett
Stephen Brett had a wife, three children and a mortgage when he decided to launch his own Aylsham market gardening business in 1995.
Mr Brett borrowed £5,000 from the bank, about £2,500 from the Neech Loan Fund and planted 12 acres with crops including cabbages and broad beans.
Because of the delay between planting and harvesting, he found the Neech loan invaluable
“I had no savings and the Neech money was half as much again as the bank loan, and that was all the money I had, so it was very important. I used it to buy machinery - cultivators and spreaders,” he recalled. “Without it I would have had to borrow from people I knew, so it meant I could be independent.” Mr Brett, 49, repaid the loan over five years: “It was just manageable, but it wasn’t easy,” he said.
As his business flourished, Mr Brett first opened a shop in Garden Street, Cromer, replaced about 10 years ago by his current shop in Norwich Road, Aylsham, which won the 2006 greengrocer of the year award in the EDP’s Norfolk Food and Drink Awards.
And three years ago he further expanded, launching a wholesale business, Fresh Approach, on Aylsham’s industrial estate, in partnership with his daughter Louise, 26. Their customers include Budgens in Holt, and Roys of Wroxham.
And this year Mr Brett has planted up to 44 acres of land with crops.
The business now employs the whole family, including wife Marion and twin sons Matthew and Thomas, 20.
Courtesy of Mr Stephen Brett and Archant Community Media Ltd (c) 2018