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An Essex farming couple have grown Frankenstein-shaped pumpkins to give their customers an extra bit of fright this Halloween. Guy and Emily French, owners... Essex farmers create special Frankenstein pumpkins

An Essex farming couple have grown Frankenstein-shaped pumpkins to give their customers an extra bit of fright this Halloween.

Guy and Emily French, owners of Foxes Farm Produce, have perfected the art of the Frankenstein pumpkins over the last seven years. They were the first UK farmers to attempt the feat, using specially designed moulds from the USA.

Mr French said: “These Frankenstein pumpkins are a labour of love, but we know our visitors think they’re great. As some of the most experienced pumpkin growers in the country, we felt up to the task, and are so pleased with the results this year.”

Guess the weight

Foxes Farm Produce is inviting visitors to their night-time pumpkin patch at Colchester to guess the weight of the Frankenstein pumpkin on display. Entry costs £1 per guess with half the proceeds going to MacMillan Cancer Support and half to the winner.

Established in 2007, the farm business is one of the UK’s leading pumpkin wholesale growers. As well as growing and selling their own pumpkins, the couple deliver throughout the UK to wholesalers, retailers and fellow pumpkin patches.

They opened their first pick-your-own Pumpkin Patch in Essex in 2015 and attract thousands of visitors to their farms in Basildon and Colchester. They also have a seasonal pick your own sunflower patch, giant corn maze and a farm mud run enterprise.

Technology to Reduce Rural Crime

New approaches to improving farm security will be discussed by Norfolk police and crime commissioner Giles Orpen-Smellie this month.

The cost of rural theft increased by 52% in Norfolk in 2022, making it one of the UK’s 10 worst-affected counties. Other badly-hit counties long with Cambridgeshire and Essex, according to the figures from NFU Mutual.

Online event

Mr Orpen-Smellie will discuss the situation during an online event hosted by Agri-TechE on 12 October. He will be joined by NFU Mutual farm insurance specialist Charlie Yorke and Louis Clabburn, head of member services at the AF Group.

Quad bikes and all-terrain vehicles are particularly vulnerable to theft. A global shortage of chips and components is also heightening demand for stolen goods, with criminals even using lightweight drones to target rural businesses.

Recommended anti-theft measures include as locking gates, removing keys from vehicles and keeping records of serial and chassis numbers. But there are also technological options available to deter criminals.

“There is no silver bullet solution but fitting tracking devices and immobilisers, both physical and electronic, together with forensic marking has been shown to be effective,” says Mr Yorke.

The industry-recognised triangular CESAR mark – and transponder tags the size of a grain of rice containing a unique code number that cannot be altered or deleted – have made it easier to identify stolen equipment, doubling the chances of return.

The online event will offer an overview of the technology currently available to farmers. Called ‘Agri-Tech to reduce rural crime’, it is being held in partnership with the AF Group and Norfolk County Council.

Remote monitoring through the ‘Internet of Things’ could be the key to improved security. Other emerging technology includes tracking devices for livestock that alert the farmer to rapid movements resulting from theft or dog attacks.

For details, visit  agri-tech-e.co.uk/events.

Schools learn about food and farming

More children will have the chance to learn where their food comes from thanks to an education programme run by the East of England Agricultural Society.

The society’s Kids Country initiative helps primary school chaildren understand where food comes from, the value of eating  in-season UK produce and ways to keep safe in the countryside. All events will now be run on-site in schools.

Education manager Sandra Lauridsen said: “Over the past few years we have listened to teachers who have identified travel costs as a real barrier to more children accessing our events, which focus on hands-on learning experiences.”

“We are offering a more flexible approach, with our events programme re-worked to deliver our fully booked events programme into the playground and classroom.”

Primary schools across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire will also be the chance to link up with a local farm, with farmers coming into the classroom to tell the field-to-fork journey of their food.