George Henry, the second son of Mary Thompson, farming in Hersham, took the opportunity to move to West End Village in 1871 , starting the business we now know as Garsons.
The mixed farm gradually specialised in vegetable production, selling to greengrocers through the Borough Market by London Bridge. Garson Farm was probably one of the furthest farms supplying London with vegetables at that time, there were closer market gardening areas at Twickenham, Fulham and Chelsea villages. However, from Esher, horses and wagons could make the return journey to the Borough Market in less than 24 hours.
George died in 1905 and three of his sons, George, William and Edwin entered into a partnership to run the business. By 1939 Edwin was the sole remaining partner – with his sons joining him, Eddie to manage sales and Roy production.
The onset of war gave fresh impetus to production of food as imports were curtailed. Extra land was ploughed up including the adjacent West End Common. Land Army girls and prisoners of war were recruited to help with the harvest.
After the war food shortages continued so the business increased production with the aid of modern technologies – irrigation, agrochemicals and greenhouse production. A fleet of Bedford lorries reduced the journey time to London markets as the spread of Suburbia made Garson Farm one of the closest to market.
Following 100 years of successful marketing to London greengrocers the 1970’s heralded the rise of the Supermarkets and a great change in food marketing. Garson Farm was left out in the rush to procure cheap food from international suppliers.
The family’s response to this was to produce a broader range of fruit and vegetables for the closest of customers and sell it all retail. Hence the horticultural business you see today after nearly 35 years of Pick Your Own.
The Farm Shop and Garden Centre have developed alongside the Pick Your Own Farm to create a comprehensive retail business, winning many awards and becoming one of the country’s leading rural retailers.
A second site was added to the business in 1999 with the purchase of “Fontley Nurseries” – now known as “Garsons at Titchfield”, following extensive development.
The current directors (all descendants of George Henry Thompson) are Derek and his sons Ian and Alan Richardson, with Peter Thompson, his daughter Clare James (nee Thompson) and his nephew Ben Thompson.