My Suffolk - william Kendall
William Kendall is a Suffolk farmer and the entrepreneur who launched Green & Blacks and the New Covent Garden Food Company. He is also one of the founder members of Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival which has helped to put Suffolk on the food map and is celebrating its tenth anniversary this month
Why did you move to Suffolk?
I came to live in Suffolk because my wife Miranda inherited a little farm in Kelsale. We were at Cambridge together and I thought it was rather interesting to meet a girl who had a farm as I come from a farming background in Bedfordshire. After we got married we spent 20 years living in London but in 2000 decided that we would live in Maple Farm full time instead.
What do you like about Suffolk?
I like it because it’s rural and it still respects rural traditions and that’s why people come here. People get frustrated because it’s a bit slower, the trains are slower and the roads are slower.
When you ask someone to come round and mend a dripping tap they might not come round the next day but when they do arrive they are cheerful and have time to talk to you. East Suffolk is a place that feels like it still has time for you and itself.
Where do you like to walk?
I like to walk on the farm - although it’s not huge it’s my chance to see what’s going on. We have a house in Thorpeness, although it’s only five miles away and Miranda comes here several times a week and walks the dogs on the beach. The walk from Thorpeness towards Dunwich is fantastic.
Do you eat out?
We do not really eat out as I like to cook and we have really wonderful food on the farm. If we are entertaining we ask Peter Harrison to come along and cook for us - he’s so creative. When I had my 50th birthday we wanted to roast a pig and have lots of salads and he worked out how to do it. His talent has inspired a generation of famous chefs and, most important for me, he really cares about appropriate sourcing and seasonality and that the best food is made with the best ingredients.
Why is Suffolk renowned for its high quality food and produce?
It’s food with a soul produced by people who really care. The county produces some amazing ingredients - fantastic meat that comes from the salt marshes and all kinds of quality produce, fish, vegetables etc. When Caroline Cranbrook, Tim Rowan-Robinson and Alisha Gooderham started Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival ten years ago we wanted to celebrate all the producers and growers who were doing such amazing work in the county and make sure they did not disappear.
It feels like the battle has been won because now more and more people want to get involved.
When people visit where do you take them?
Miranda and I are both trustees of Aldeburgh Music so we go to Snape. We have one of the top five concert halls in the world so even if people are not interested in the arts and music it’s still an amazing place. At Kelsale we are five miles from the coast so of course we take visitors to either Aldeburgh or Southwold. If people are interested in conservation and the environment we would also visit one of Suffolk’s hidden nature reserves. We have a reserve in Kelsale for instance that no-one knows about. We might also take them out on the Alde in a boat down to the shingle spit - which has to be one of the most remote places in southern England.
Do you have any hobbies?
I play a few sports but I also cycle - I am one of those ‘MAMIL’s’ a ‘Middle Aged Man In Lycra’. Usually I cycle with Robbie from East Green Energy - doing 20 or 30 miles around the lanes near Kelsale. Suffolk is the most fantastic cycling country - it’s when you realise that the county is not flat by any means as it has so many rolling hills. It’s not so good when you are cycling up the hills but when you get to the top there are beautiful views.
Is there one snapshot that sums up Suffolk for you?
Actually I have two pictures at the moment. One is a view of small fields within a landscape of rolling hills. You’ll be able to see a mix of old fashioned agriculture with some grazing animals and maybe the harvest going on as well. There will be hedges and trees too. The other picture is on the River Alde in a boat with a late summer sunset with a wonderful multi-coloured sky. We have seen a lot of these skies recently and I always feel I’ve got to do something about it and take a photograph, even though I’ve already got lots of sunset pictures.