As in most parts of the country farming in and around High Halstow has changed a great deal over the years. There was a time when a great variety of fruit crops were grown on the local farms, providing work for village women and men alike. Cherry orchards, apples, pears, blackcurrants, gooseberries and strawberries were all part of the summer growing season on the farm, followed by potatoes, peas, beans and other vegetables.
In the summer women would pack their lunches and take their children along for the day to work on the farms. The children would play happily around the orchards and if very lucky would be given a ride on the back of the tractor. Now sadly there are fewer orchards to be seen. On a much smaller scale we see local apples and pears being sold in the parish. Gone are the orchards, which made such a pretty picture in the spring with their colourful blossom. Now we see great fields of cereals, which are grown all year round.
Farming nowadays employs less outside labour, although some farms bring in labouring gangs of women from the towns when required for pruning, picking and packing. Students are used at Decoy Farm during the summer months to harvest the fruits (strawberries and raspberries) and are accommodated in the caravans on site for this purpose. Where once stood a farm shop full of village produce there are now houses, and we have to travel outside the village to go to the nearest farm shop.
Many of the original buildings are still in existence and indeed have been lived in by the same families for many generations. Some land has been sold off either to individuals building their own homes or to land developers. The village also had a Forge, standing in Forge Lane, which dealt with shoeing horses and repairing farm machinery.
Although as already said, farming in the village has changed over the years in High Halstow, many of the farming names have remained. The Oscenton family still have deep roots in farming within the village and are mainly concerned with cereals and rape crops. Richard Baker, mainly cereals, Tim Long at Cooling who farms much of the marshes and has cattle and sheep amongst his stock. He also grows fruit at Dux Court. Buckhole farm has been for many years part of the Bradley family business and farmed fruit including apples, pears and cherries, but now farms mainly cereals with some fruit. Some salad vegetables are grown in surrounding farms including celery and salad onions (not now to be known as spring onions as they can be produced all year)
The main difference within the parish regarding farming is that it used to be a village around farms with villagers called upon to bring in the crops. Now the village has become much larger and the farms incidental. Most people in the village now have little or no knowledge of farming or the farming history of the parish.
Although there has been a decline in the orchards in High Halstow over the years the appraisal found that 36.6% of people felt it was important to plant new orchards.
As a result of this the then Parish Council planted the ‘Avenue of Trees’ off Christmas Lane by the Cricket Club and in addition the trees around the Recreation Ground, as part of the celebration of the millennium.