From the Global Hazelnut Sector to the Garden of England

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At 29, Tom Cannon is the third generation involved at Roughway Farm, launching the farm online to provide fresh produce such as Cherries, Greengages and Kent Cobnuts directly to the customer. We are delighted to share the news that Tom has become a Churchill Fellow and will be conducting research into world hazelnut production in a project entitled ‘From the Global Hazelnut Sector to the Garden of England’.

Speaking on becoming a Churchill Fellow, Tom said;

“Thanks to my grandfather and his involvement in the founding of the Kent Cobnut Association I have a real personal connection to the Kent Cobnut and efforts to help raise their profile. Cobnuts have led to unique landscapes within the county and indeed across the country and have significant cultural, wildlife and historic interest. In my view, helping to raise awareness and to understand the future potential of Kent’s very own nut is an incredibly exciting prospect.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel, learn and meet so many interesting people from all over the world. I am honoured to be given the chance to bring back valuable knowledge to the UK for the benefit of our cobnut sector, rural economy, history, environment and landscape. I see this as such an important mission and it is also excellent to be contributing to Winston Churchill’s living legacy. I hope I can also inspire others to apply for their own Churchill Fellowships. I can’t wait for my global adventure to begin!”

Tom inspecting early cobnuts

Tom’s Churchill Fellowship is in the Rural living category. He will be visiting Turkey, China, USA, Australia and New Zealand to research the hazelnut sector in these countries. The trip will be split according to the harvests in the Northern and Southern hemisphere. The first part of the trip will be in August / September 2019 and the second in March / April 2020.

During his research Tom hopes to gain a picture of; market & policy environments, local initiatives, farming practice, approaches to hazelnut farming and diversification and how these factors have enhanced local economies and communities. Tom is keen to make sure that the cobnut remains a well marketed product that is popular with the buying public and thus helps to preserves the industry.

Image of the cobnut project website

Although accepting it was some way off, he said “It would be fabulous if one day we were able to begin exporting a certain quantity of cobnuts and delicious cobnut based-products overseas. We have lots to do in the UK first though. I think also sharing broad initiatives could benefit lots of growers and the sector.”

Tom will also be meeting the Hazelnut Growers of Oregon, Hazelnut Growers of Australia Inc. and Hazelnut Growers Association of New Zealand.

As part of the project Tom will hope to present and share findings to the KCA. He also has a website that he will be updating during his travels with a few videos. The website is at: https://cobnutproject.co.uk

If you are able to help Tom with sourcing contacts then please do get in touch with him via the website or email info@cobnutproject.co.uk

Tom Cannon at farmers market

About WCMT

The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust runs the Churchill Fellowships, a programme of overseas research grants. These support UK citizens from all parts of society to travel the world in search of innovative solutions for today’s most pressing problems. Churchill Fellowships empower individuals to learn from the world, for the benefit of the UK.

The Fellowship was created by public subscription in 1965 as the living legacy of Sir Winston Churchill. Since then over 5,500 grants have been awarded to inspiring individuals who possess the passion and commitment to make a real difference.

Every year WCMT award 150 Fellowships. Applications for 2020 are now open.