Why Andy would be an effective mentor

  • Andy started with a 30 acre county council smallholding with sheep and a few cattle, which he kept for four years before progressing to take on more tenanted land on long-term Farm Business Tenancies (FBTs) and buying some of his own land. He now owns 45 acres and has more than 20 years’ experience in farming and contracting
  • Andy and his partner Kay have recently expanded their campsite and developed a shop to complement their extended pick your own fruit and veg enterprise. By using different techniques and growing methods such as polytunnels, different varieties and cold store plants which crop in 60 days, Andy has significantly extended the pick your own season from early/mid June to the end of August and made it a much more viable business
  • As part of his Higher National Diploma, Andy spent a year on a soft fruit farm in Kent. This offered him lots of opportunities and experience to help develop the enterprise on the family farm and he also received a lot of help afterwards, which has been a great support to him
  • A small but successful game shoot has also been established on part of the farm and neighbouring land

Current farm business

  • 45 acres owned and a further 480 acres rented on long-term FBTs
  • Andrew works on the farm full time, while his partner Kay and regular employees are part-time workers
  • 45 suckler cows, Limousin cross, with all calves finished on the farm and sold as fat cattle. Bulls are reared on a bull beef system and are sold at 14-15 months old, while heifers are sold at 22-24 months old. All replacements are bought in. Mainly Limousin bulls used
  • 500 crossbred ewes. All lambs finished on the farm with the majority sold into a Waitrose scheme
  • Ten acres of soft fruit such as strawberries, raspberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants and gooseberries grown on farm, along with peas, beans and potatoes for a pick your own enterprise
  • An on-site pick your own shop, open from early June to late August, also sells home-grown fruit and veg, some home-reared meat, cakes, jams and cream teas
  • Successful diversification with a campsite, and investment in renewable energy with biomass boiler and solar thermal system
  • 150 acres of wheat, barley and oats grown on farm, with beans to comply with greening requirements. As much as possible is utilised for stock feed, with any surplus sold to local farmers or feed mills

Qualifications/ achievements/ experience

  • Higher National Diploma Harper Adams University 1993-1995
  • Farming Connect Demonstration Farm 2013-2014

Top tips for business success

“Communicate with other people and research ideas fully to help develop your business. Don’t be afraid to ask for help because you can’t have enough support when you’re starting out in business.”

“If you want to do something, get out there and see what others are doing, you pick up a lot of good ideas and learn a lot more that way.”

“Take advice and inspiration from other people and make your ideas suit your situation as best you can.”

“Be flexible. Be prepared to change your plans if things don’t turn out how you wanted.”