THE name Brian Lowe is synonymous with our local community, having lived here all his life and been an integral part of local businesses. However, in case you are new to the area, I thought an introduction might be fitting.
Brian was born and raised on Shanty Farm in Byley. His parents moved onto the land, which included part of the old airbase nearly 70 years ago, and used it to grow fruit, vegetables, plants and flowers, and to raise cattle. Brian’s passion was always the growing side of the farm, and he would earn pocket money helping his parents. When he left school in 1976 it was an easy decision to go to Reaseheath College to study glasshouse horticulture.
Simply put, glasshouse horticulture, also known as greenhouse farming, is growing plants and flowers in a building with glass roofs so that the building stays warm inside, even during the winter. In the daytime, sunlight shines into the greenhouse and warms the plant and the air inside. As Brian’s knowledge developed in this area, they expanded the farm by adding more greenhouses and increased their growing capacity.
Brian is hard working and was entrepreneurial from very early on. In 1980 he started to sell the produce grown on the farm at local markets, including Middlewich and Crewe.
He was a regular face at Crewe market, and still to this day he has customers who come and buy their fruit and veg from him. After 23 years on the markets, times started to change and supermarkets took a hold, so to move with the times they opened a farm shop on Shanty Farm. It started with a small stall in the yard and over the years grew into outbuildings and then a purpose-built unit selling a wide range of produce. The farm shop became a success and, on reflection, set the trend for the many farm shops we now have scattered across the Cheshire countryside.
In 2017 he stepped away from the family business and the opportunity came up to set up Sparks Lane Nurseries, which is based on A534 between Arclid and Congleton. Since opening, the business has grown, not only in terms of floor space but stock too – they sell fruit and their own vegetables, plants, jams and other produce. They also stock seasonal essentials, like pumpkins and Christmas trees. He employs local young people and gives them the opportunity to learn the industry, develop their skills and gain confidence.
Sparks Lane Nurseries is now Brian’s passion, and Christmas is an exciting time. It will be lit up with sparkling lights, with the smell of fresh pine in the air from the trees, and the shelves will be stocked with all the Christmas fruit and veg you need as well as beautiful posies and wreaths to decorate your home. This is a time of year Brian enjoys, and he is looking forward to seeing all his customers getting ready for the season ahead.