Progressive Farmer of the Year
Paul Smith on behalf of Bardsley-England
Bardsley England is a fifth generation, family-run fruit farming business, with 1,062 acres of orchards across 17 different sites in Kent, growing apples, pears, plums and apricots. The business produces over 10,000 tonnes of fruit and is within the five largest growers of top fruit in the UK. Alongside its growing entity, Bardsley England runs a state-of-the-art pack house, where they store, grade, pack and distribute their own fruit whilst also providing a South East hub for over 30 other growers.
The facility handles 24,000t of fruit per year and employs over 300 people during peak season. Bardsley England is passionate about having a 360-degree approach with customers and eliminating fruit waste, which is why it started producing natural fruit juices three years ago in order to strive to use up 100% of waste fruit generated from the harvest. Over the last three years they have invested heavily in a major site extension, development and new equipment. The current generations are shaping the business for the future through innovation, quality, empowerment, smart working and a clear investment plan. Bardsley England has a fantastic team of motivated, bright and empowered employees who are key to the business’ success.
Heather and Robert Copley on behalf of Farmer Copleys
Farmer Copleys is owned by Robert and Heather Copley and has been in the Copley family for over 140 years. It started as a dairy farm, then changed to arable and since Robert has returned to the farm, he has brought back the livestock, both sheep and beef, as that is his true passion. Farmer Copleys, as it is known today, started 15 years ago as a small farm shop with just one butcher alongside Robert and Heather but has grown dramatically in the last few years.
It has gone through four major expansion phases, with the injection of self-funding finance and now also incorporates the hugely successful Moo Café, a biomass plant and a solar panel energy generating system, as well as other new technological advances and a much expanded team of employees. They pride themselves on having one of the best meat counters in the UK, a lovely deli with fantastic cheese, olives, and beautiful homemade products and fresh fruit and vegetables.
They have also become renowned for their pumpkin festival, for which they grow thousands of pumpkins every year. Farmer Copleys has created a wonderful platform to showcase British Agriculture to the community, get people engaged with the countryside, and illustrate where their food comes from and how it is produced. The business has a focused growth plan to ensure sustainability.