Smaller producers making a difference with quality veg crops

Making time to walk each row is enabling veg agronomist Katie Dew to show that no matter what the acreage, her customers come first.

“We can’t afford to neglect smaller-scale producers, especially following the year we’ve had,” said Katie. “They’ve been there when the public needed them, supplying fresh British produce during really tough times. Some of my customers may be considered small, but they grow a huge range of crops. Each row in a field can be different – from standard savoy cabbage through to niche veg such as kohlrabi. One person’s two acres is just as important as the next person’s 400.”

It’s this dedication to field walking and quality agronomic advice that has made Katie highly popular with her customers.

Weston Farm in Weston-on-Avon has been growing veg crops for more than 120 years, supplying both their own, other local farm shops and wholesale markets.

Working in partnership with Katie and Agrovista, they produce around 30-acres of mixed veg; brassicas, beetroot, pumpkins, leeks, runner beans and potatoes, as well as 160-acres of arable crops.

Richard Bluck, who runs the farm alongside sons Mark and Phillip, said: “Compared to others we’re small veg growers, but Katie still takes us and our work very seriously.

“It takes time to walk all of the different veg, and it’s a real challenge to grow them successfully and produce a clean, pest and disease-free crop. But it’s never too much trouble for her. Her dedication to doing a good job and the fact she does her homework to overcome challenges makes her stand out. We’re really reaping the rewards of our partnership with Katie and Agrovista.”

For Katie, the power of teamwork combined with trust and honesty is the cornerstone of successful agronomy. This was put into action this year when a need to diversify the farm’s arable rotation resulted in growing maize for the first time.

She said: “We had to think outside of the box and although it was hit with drought which delayed emergence, the maize looks promising and is something Weston Farm is considering growing again in the future. The farm has a wide mix of soil types from gravelly sandy loams to heavy clay which means we can only grow veg on some of the ground. This makes rotation choices tricky at times, but we find a solution by working together.

“As we head into winter, we have some lovely veg going through the shop – the cauliflowers look perfect. I was so proud to see Weston Farm Shop and the other farm shops that I work with being so busy throughout the pandemic. It’s great to be part of this industry, helping to feed the nation.”

Image caption: Agrovista agronomist Katie Dew with customer Mark Bluck of Weston Farm

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