Fifty years ago this year, deep in darkest Dorset (just outside Sherborne), the first seeds were sown of what would become today’s quality Sherborne turf.
Originally started by two enterprising locals, Mike Pearce and Bill Snell, in 1972 in fields near Sherborne. It wasn’t long before the pair were joined by Charles Mason who moved the growing to fields that are still used today. Charles carried on the enterprise after Mike and Bill moved on to other ventures. At this point, orders were phoned in or sent in by post in advance. Order confirmations and delivery times were then sent out via postcard.
In the meantime, Paul and Julia Harris were farming next door, primarily dairy and arable, up to 1992 when the dairy heard was sold.
It was clear, however, that the turf produced by Sherborne Turf was something special and, in 1995, Paul and Julia brought the turf production from Charles, creating the company that we know today.
Back in those early days Paul and Julia worked from a tiny office in their farmhouse with more dogs than people. They were quick to update how orders were received and confirmed, and established a reputation for quality and reliability.
Sherborne Turf was located in Barton Farm in Trent from 1995 until 2015
Out in the fields there was one turf cutter and one delivery truck, driven by the same person, with another to help stack and unload.
Ivor cutting turf in one of the original turf cutters
After several years of requests to lay the turf they were delivering, Paul recruited Adam to do just that, and so, in 2000, Queen Thorne Landscapes was created.
Adam and team laying turf
With the growing business, an extension was built for Sherborne Turf, with another office upstairs for Queen Thorne Landscapes, while the farm, now Queen Thorne Agriculture (QT Agri), remained in the farmhouse office.
With demand for turf on the up, the original 25 acres was no longer enough, and the company temporarily grew turf on other local estates and at Frogmary Farm in South Petherton. Over the years, the land farmed gradually increased from 25 acres to 160 acres of turf being grown at any one time in a two-year rotation.
An aerial view of some of the fields
With the increased demand for turf came requests for soil and other landscaping materials and a need for an even larger premises. So, in 2015, Sherborne Turf and Queen Thorne Landscapes moved to The Lawn and Landscape Centre on the Marston Road.
The yard in 2016
With an ethos as a local, family run company, Sherborne Turf, Queen Thorne Landscapes and QT Agri have retained a lot of staff over the years, with some working with for nearly as long as the company has existed. Working alongside Paul and Julia were Andy, Ben, Ivor and then later on, MJ. For some, their roles have changed (often more than once), but their importance to the company has only increased.
Ivor and MJ in the 2000s
Sherborne Turf has remained a family company and, when Paul retired at the end of 2021, his daughter, Nicola, took the helm as the Managing Director starting our fiftieth year in style with exciting plans for growth and development.
2022 and Beyond
Since its beginnings Sherborne Turf has always prided itself on providing excellent quality at reasonable prices, and we continue to hold these values to this day. From small amounts of quality turf, we can now provide a wide variety of landscaping products: including soil, compost, aggregates, sand, barks and mulches alongside fertilisers, seed, gardening equipment and machinery, all deliverable to your door.
Our partnerships have continued to grow and develop throughout the year. Adding to our existing collaborations with EGO Power Plus, Niwaki and Chelwood, this year Sherborne Turf has become an accredited supplier of Wildflower Turf, and Queen Thorne Landscapes are now accredited installers.
Landscape 34 turf from Wildflower Turf
Our delivery service has gone from strength to strength as we gradually increase our fleet of delivery vehicles as well as the distance that we can send our quality goods.
Development of our yard has been ongoing throughout the year in order to adjust to the increasing size of the business, with newly developed areas for Queen Thorne and new product bays, as well as an extra carpark for staff, leaving more space for customers.
The future continues to look exciting with sustainability and quality at its heart. Solar panels, new electric vehicles and charging points along with new quality, sustainable products, reusable product bags and peat free compost. Watch this space for new developments!
The Harris's: Paul, Julia, Nicola and Ollie; and the rest of the team for Sherborne Turf and Queen Thorne Landscapes