AT JUST 21 years old, Kendalian entrepreneur Dan Stearne is making waves on the local horticultural scene with his sustainable plant-growing venture, Dan's Plants.

The business has just reached a new milestone, establishing a purpose-built growing polytunnel at Low Sizergh farm.

The Park family runs the farm using regenerative and organic farming practices. They make it easy for people to buy high-quality, locally grown produce.

The polytunnel expansion has tripled Dan's growing capacity, allowing him to nurture his passion for sustainable horticulture. His peat-free, chemical-free plants are available from Low Sizergh Barn, the farm’s award-winning farm shop, alongside other local outlets.

The polytunnel at Low Sizergh has tripled Dan's growing capacityThe polytunnel at Low Sizergh has tripled Dan's growing capacity (Image: Supplied)

Dan's passion for growing took root early in his life and was nurtured by his grandmother, Lily. Growing from his Natland garden and inspired by the success of selling at Holy Trinity Winster Church's fundraising events, Dan embarked on his entrepreneurial journey.

The turning point came in 2020 when Dan started supplying plants to the Low Sizergh Barn farm shop. Demand has since soared for locally grown and environmentally friendly plants, leading to a fruitful collaboration.

Alison Park, who heads up the Low Sizergh Barn farm shop, comments: “Dan first worked with us as part of our weekend team, and his interest in growing caught our attention; the partnership has flourished ever since.

“We have a proven history in successfully nurturing start-up rural businesses and offering shelf space to like-minded producers, makers and growers.

“This private growing space is the latest chapter in our farm diversification story and joins our farm shop and café, raw milk vending machine, campsite, and Growing Well’s mental health social enterprise in making excellent use of our land and agricultural buildings.”

Dan envisions showcasing his Kendal-grown plants at prestigious events like the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. His ultimate goal is to become an RHS Master Grower and open a public nursery or garden centre: “My commitment to sustainability aligns perfectly with the ethos of Low Sizergh Barn. Together, we’re championing locally sourced, peat-free products that promote environmental stewardship. By choosing Dan's Plants, customers can contribute to a greener, more sustainable future.”

The Park family keep a crossbred dairy herd of Holsteins, Scandinavian Reds and Montbeliardes and a flock of 200 sheep. In 1991, they opened one of the county’s first farm shops in a redundant Westmorland stone barn. A café overlooking the milking parlour followed in 1992. The farm trail opened in 2002. In 2016, the public could buy raw milk from their cows via a vending machine beside the farm shop and milking parlour.

Now in their 33rd year of farm shop ownership, the owners stock their shelves with local produce, including that of their first suppliers.

The Park family’s approach to running its business and the quality of the food it stocks have earned it numerous national and regional farm shop and food awards.

The Park family have always championed the connection between how food is grown, making it easy for people to buy high-quality local produce. That includes fruit and vegetables from the farm-based horticultural mental health charity Growing Well. And a ‘crop for the shop’ scheme where growers exchange their crops for a gift card to be spent in the farm shop or café.