Sustainable & Organic Field Tour
The Sustainable and Organic Group invites you to Cambridgeshire for variety of fascinating visits - including the world renowned Rothamstead Research centre of excellence, some of the most pioneering organic producers in the UK and farming businesses that combine the very best in sustainable production and alternative routes to market. There is something for everyone who has an eye for maximising productivity, while minimising environmental impact.
Free day in York, followed by an early evening high-speed train from York to Peterborough.
Produce World Group
Harry and Percy Burgess began growing vegetables in the Peterborough Fens back in 1989. Today, their business has transformed into Produce World, one of the largest vegetables growers in Europe. They grow an extensive range of vegetables on over 20,000 acres for major retailers, food service outlets and food manufacturers through a combination of their own farms, joint ventures and grower collaborations in the UK and overseas. The Group is also the UK’s leading grower and supplier of organic vegetables into major retailers and has its own organic brand, Nature Premium, which currently includes veg boxes for Ocado. Produce World remains a privately-owned business with active involvement from the fourth generation of the Burgess Family. (www.produceworld.co.uk)
G’s Group is a truly vertically integrated grower-to-marketing organisation, managing the entire process from seed-to-shelf and ensuring 52-week supplies by operating farms and production facilities in Spain, Czech Republic and the USA, as well as the UK. Their product range is immense - from salad vegetables to flowers - and has recently been expanded with the addition of a mushroom farm. purpose-built by G’s in supply partnership with Tesco, the new facility fits into their broader sustainability programme, with excess heat and waste materials being reused in the agricultural process. ( www.gs-fresh.com)
Organic farmer and Scholar, Stephen Briggs, is pioneering an integrated land use system known as agroforestry. The aim is to produce crops from trees and also from the land the trees are on. Stephen’s system consists of widely spaced rows of apple trees and 24m-wide alleys of combinable crops. The 4,500 apple tress were planted in October 2009 on 125 acres of Fenland soil, making it one of the largest agroforestry projects in the UK. (www.organicfarmers.org.uk/the-promise-of-agroforestry)
Keythrorpe Lakes Farm
A 2013 Scholar, Will Armitage believes the management of our soils is fundamental in the production of quality food. He is a managing partner in a large organic dairy enterprise - comprising a 350-head autumn calving herd yielding over 8,000 litres and a 250-head spring calving herd, in Leicestershire and Rutland. Will is an advocate of biological farming and will share his practical experiences on getting the most out of his soils.
Allerton Trust Loddington Estate
The Allerton Project is a combination of commercial farming, research, demonstration and community engagement. The Project was set up in 1992 at the bequest of the previous owners of the 815-acre working farm at Loddington, Lord and Lady Allerton. A range of research programmes - from crop rotations to soil nutrients - continue to be carried out in collaboration with universities and other research organisations. Their findings are used to influence agri-environmental policy at national level, as well as practices at the individual farm level, and are partly responsible for shaping many of the environmental schemes and policies in place in England today. (www.gwct.org.uk/allerton/)
Thales End Farm
Farming around 1,700 acres spread over five farms near to Harpenden, Ian Pigott strives to strike a balance between maximising yield, whilst offering a diverse, thriving environment for wildlife. He uses precision farming techniques and has recently started zero-till crop establishment, carrying out a 1,000-acre trial in partnership with Rothamsted Research. The farm is also a demonstration farm for LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming). Ian is a 2002 Scholar and, as a result of his studies, founded the public education initiative known as Open Farm Sunday which sees hundreds of farmers fling open their gates for a single day in June each year in a bid to reconnect children with food and farming. He is a regular columnist for the ‘Farmers Weekly’ and also chairman of the Farming and Countryside Education charity. (www.thralesend.co.uk + www.farmsunday.org)
Rothamsted Research Centre
Rothamsted Research enjoys an international reputation for the quality of their research across the agricultural, environmental and plant sciences. It is the largest agricultural research centre in the UK and almost certainly the oldest in the world. Designing, modelling and assessing sustainable agricultural systems that increase productivity, whilst minimising environmental impact, is part of its mission nowadays. This includes increasing wheat productivity to yield 20 tonnes per hectare in 20 years. (www.rothamsted.ac.uk)