A FARMER who was at the heart of a village community for 40 years has bid an emotional farewell to family, friends and long-time colleagues just days before his death.

John Rowswell was just 60, but had been given two to six weeks left to live by doctors.

John was born in Barrington, growing up with five brothers and a sister, and helping on his dad’s cattle farm.

When he was just 19 he started to take over the reins, transforming the farm into a fruit and vegetable business.

John worked 80 hours a week for 40 years before it suddenly stopped. After issues with his health at Christmas 2018, John was diagnosed with cancer.

Although the Rowswell’s had a business in the village for generations, it was under John that it took the shape of today, trading to restaurants, pubs and hotels across the county.

“When dad ran it, it was cows, but we were struggling to make money, so I decided to go into vegetables,” he said.

“We got it sustainable enough to make a living. It is not all about money. It is about a quality of life.

“I have supplied the pub here, the Barrington Boar, for 40 years.

“In 1981, we started supplying door-to-door and we always had vegetables for the pub.”

John was just five when he was given a little spot in the farm to grow radishes. His grandad taught him to grow runner beans, something he has continued to this day.

As well as the vegetables helping John to make ends meet, he also picked up a few prizes for his work.

“I was the South West regional UK champion for UKTV food, and I also won food producer of the UK for South West,” John added.

“We had a really good turnover, but when I fell sick it just fell apart.”

One summer John and his dad turned their hands to tomatoes, and a bumper crop saw the pair trying to offload hundreds of boxes.

This variety also landed them the chance to cook for TV chef Gary Rhodes, and John boasted they were ‘best tomatoes Gary said he ever had’.

John added: “My dad said, ‘John, why are always trying to get more, spreading out and always being busy, when everything you could want is here.

“All you have to do is live a sustainable life, use the land sustainably. We were not buying in lots of fertilisers or chemicals, just putting the same nutrients back into the soil that we take away.

“If everyone did that, we wouldn’t be pulling the planet to pieces. Everyone needs to slow down and make it more sustainable.”

John died in his sleep on February 23 after battling bowel, liver, kidney and lung cancer.

He was survived by his mum, siblings, and two children.