A DARLINGTON farm is hoping to further expand its production of cold-pressed rapeseed oil.

Olly Lawson, co-founder of Lovesome Oil, has hopes of bringing the entire manufacturing process to his family farm in Brafferton.

Three generations of the family have run Lovesome Hill Farm over the last 90 years and it has been growing rapeseed for 40 years.

In 2018, Mr Lawson and his wife Francesca, decided to diversify by using their product to make their own cold-pressed oil.

And they are now hoping to secure funding from the Government's RDPE growth scheme to allow them to press oil at the farm.

Mr Lawson said: “Currently we don’t have the facilities to press and bottle it on the farm so we use a contractor to process it.

“That’s the reason for getting a grant so we can do it without having a contractor."

He added: "It gives me butterflies that we could make something from having the raw seeds, planting them, growing them, harvesting them and then turning it into a product on the farm."

"It's quite exciting, but also an important diversification for the the farm."

Co-founder Francesca Lawson, his wife, said, “We want to fly the flag for County Durham as being a quality food producer.

She added: “Receiving the grant would allow us to build our own cold pressing, bottling and labelling facility on the farm, the seed would go from soil to oil without leaving site. This would also allow us to diversify the farm and future proof it for generations to come."

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Mr Lawson says he has seen a surge in interest from people looking for local products and added some farm shops which had remained open had increased their purchasing.

The company has also be selling more bottles direct to customers, including five litres cans, usually reserved for commercial businesses, which have been delivered to people who are self-isolating or shielding.

The company has also handed out a bottle of free oil to every household in Brafferton.

Mr Lawson said: “It has been a pleasure to give something back to the village. I have known many people for years and made friends for life. The last few months have no doubt been tough for some of these people and we wanted to show them some support.

Brafferton resident Hilary Marsden said: “It was a lovely surprise to find a bottle of Lovesome Oil on my doorstep, I’ve been using it for years in my cooking and love the taste, it’s amazing to think it’s grown less than a mile away”.

The family-run farm, which has been growing oil seed rape for over 40 years is the first in County Durham to turn the seed into cold-pressed rapeseed oil, which has seen a surge in popularity in recent years.

The company supplies more than 20 farm shops, delis and garden centres stretching from Leyburn to Consett, as well as some cafes.