The farms around Smallford were typical in the southern part of the county wherever they focused on grain. The late 19th century collapse of grain prices caused enormous economic hardship and many farm employees and casual labourers were laid off.

Prominent agriculturalists implored land owners to modify farming practices and develop alternatives, including dairying. This was especially beneficial as the district is close to London, and wherever there was a railway the supplied could be transported into the capital cheaply and easily.

The market gardening hub of London, the lower Lea Valley, was also coming under pressure. The need for land for house-building, and the equally important need for flat land to create reservoirs, encouraged growers to look further north in the Lea Valley and in the Vale of St Albans. During the 1920s growers such as Jacob Nielsen arrived. He set up his range of glasshouses on the west side of Station Road, and coal to heat the houses came directly from the branch railway. Nielsen sold the business to Glinwell plc, where it continues to expand the salad crops business.

Greenhouses from the air

Sear and Carter moved from Fleetville to their existing trials nurseries at Smallford in 1960 and expanded their retail plants business. This was later sold to Notcutts Garden Centres which continues to be a successful enterprise.

In the 1930s came Norman Barker to Oaklands Lane, and the Chester Nurseries continues to be a wholesale nursery investing in modern glasshouses. Also in the 1930s P W Hansen acquired land on the north-west corner of the crossroads, opening the Wellfield tomato nurseries. Unfortunately this closed in the 1960s; with Hertfordshire County Council purchasing the land for playing fields.

Glinwell signage

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