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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Freight Farming

Urban agriculture - what makes a good city farmer?

Posted by Christopher Padfield on August 2, 2015

Appears in Business, Crops, Horticulture, Technology

Boston MA  USA ,  Freight Farms     June 30th


Can you grow salad crops and herbs year round  right next to the consumer? Freight farmers have come up with the solution of using insulated 40ft shippng containers fitted out with hydroponics and LED lighting and a computer system that fully automates all the growing conditions, including uploading the data to an app on your phone.  The company was set up in 2010 by Jon Friedman and Brad McNamara using Kickstarter as an initial funding source.  The system offers the ability to restuarants, communtiy groups or entrepreneurs to grow food in their own back yard even if it is covered in tarmac. The modular design makes the operation easy to scale should the demand grow.

 Patrick at Freight farmsLED lights for production inside container








Output could be between 500-1000 lettuce a week (depending on the size of the finished product)  and it is claimed to use 90% less water than traditional soil grown salad crops.  Some 24 units have been sold so far with 16 more ordered.  A customer needs  a flat site with water and electical supply (arround 80 kw per day are used).  Each container costs around $76,000 at present and should produce an income after expenses (excluding labour and finance) of aroud $40-45,000.  It is probable that one person could operate 4 containers, though this does depend on how much time is required to sell the produce.

I was interested in the concept as it allows the possilbility to produce fresh produce that are consistent in quality  right outside your back door even in winter in an urban enviroment.  In response to a question about the type of people drawn to become farmers, there appeared not to be one type, but all shared the desire to get involved in something tangible and worthwhile (to produce food), had good attention to detail and worked hard to build up relationships with the end consumers.  These traits are common to all good farmers.

Frieght farm design

Freight farm office








Thank you to Patrick for arranging the visit to the headquarters in Boston, allowing me to talk to a number of staff, and seeing the containers working.




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