Christopher Padfield  -  Post Formal Education - nurturing and growing talent?

I live on work on a 4th generation family farm on the Gloucestershire / Worcestershire border.  It is a mixed farm consisting of a Beef fattening joint venture and growing combinable crops.  We have been direct drilling all crops including maize for the last decade.  The farm is entered into an HLS scheme which is central to our focus on creating wildlife habitat around the enterprise. We also run some stubble to stubble contracting.

After working abroad in Ghana, Guinea Bissau and France, I worked for a local agricultural college mainly assessing NVQ qualifications.  I also achieved qualifications in Internal and External Verification and a PGCE (adult education).  I then set up a small training company where we offer training services, mainly LANTRA and City and Guilds qualifications, aimed at the land-based skills sector.

When not working, I love riding motorbikes and drinking whisky.  Not a great combination though a recent biking trip to Islay managed to get the best of both worlds.

I would like to thank all those supporting my Nuffield Scholarship, not least the Central Region Farmers Trust for their sponsorship, and my wife and parents for their support and backing.

 

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Organic vegetables in the polder area of Holland

The vision of the owners was so clearly integral to the nature and direction of the business and staff buy into that concept

Posted by Christopher Padfield on May 25, 2015

Appears in Business, Horticulture

Bio Brass - organic vegetables in the polder area of Holland.

Gerjan Snippe is a fellow Nuffield Scholar who runs an entirely organic fresh vegetable producing farm.  Originally from a dairy background,  he saw the opportunity to supply organic vegetables into a growing market both at home and abroad.  Starting small and selling through a co-op was not proving satisfactory, so in 2005 in partnership with two other farms  he set up Bio Brass.  Each year he grows 200 ha of organic salads / brassicas in a rotation spread of 2000 ha of organic land in cooperation with four other farmers with a minimum break of 6 crops.  His vision is very much consumer focussed, building backwards from the consumer back to the field, a concept he learnt from farmers in the UK.  He is passionate about promoting 'balanced farming' - a sustainable model not dependent on outside suppliers (e.g. potash, nitrogen) with the label of organic meaning professional and good, rather than a cliché of woolly socks and sandals.  We visited his new consumer experience centre which they are developing to showcase their produce, their values and the demonstration area - essentially aiming to sell the crop rotation!

 

  • The point I took away with me to consider further was the degree to which the vision of the owners was so clearly integral to the nature and direction of the business and that staff could buy into that concept.  Motivation therefore was not necessarily driven by money or promotion.  Assistance from outside the business had been sort to run staff appraisals and to ask difficult questions not easy to raise in a closely knit workforce.

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