Thomas SMITH  and Joseph Fels  

Thomas Smith B 1857  D 1955        Horticulturist

Joseph Fels B 1853 D 1914 Industrialist and Philanthropist

In 1879 Joseph Fels , a rich American soap magnate and philanthropist, bought an area of land at Mayland . He then developed a co-operative, letting sections of the land to smallholders who produced vegetable for the London market. This was one of several such experiments in USA and England. The Co-operative was managed for Joseph Fels by Thomas Smith.

Workers using the new cold frames

After a few years Thomas Smith saved enough money to buy a small plot of land called the Homestead at Mayland.

Smith and his wife lived frugally and ploughed all profits back into the land until he had two 50 x 20 greenhouses growing tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuces.
Smith developed new methods, based on French horticulture, which brought greater crops and allowed him to grow tender salad crops and melons which until then had to be imported.

His methods brought him great fame and the Homestead was visited by H Rider Haggard, George Lansbury and Prince Kropotkin.

Smith wrote The profitable culture of vegetables which became accepted as the definitive work on horticulture for the next 50 years.