Thursday, 19 August 2021
A growing business
Rapid expansion and capital investment are two phrases that characterise the journey Ian and his family have undertaken at Cresswell Barn Farm in the hope of securing the future of their agricultural business for generations to come. With support from Tyfu Cymru and a guaranteed market place provided by Welsh fresh produce company Puffin Produce, Ian and his family have seen not only their potato crops grow, but also their business.
Working with wife Fiona, son Patrick, and daughter Tessa, Ian has rapidly grown the potato growing operation at the Pembrokeshire-based farm from 40 acres of potatoes in 2011, to an impressive 360 acres grown in 2017.
It’s the future in farming that Ian and his family thought might never happen. Ian explains “When we were organic the main problem was transporting the crop from Pembrokeshire up to the pack houses in England. With the recession, the demand dropped and we were the first to be dropped as producers. If Puffin Produce wasn’t packing potatoes in Haverfordwest I doubt that we’d be growing any potatoes at all.”
To expand at such a rapid pace requires a large amount of capital investment on behalf of the family, with Ian explaining “6 years ago we had one small tractor, today we’ve got three 150rpm tractors and all the necessary machinery to produce potatoes”. It’s not just investment in machinery the family have had to make, with costs involved in growing at such a large scale, as well as storage facilities and labour costs also having an impact.
Since working with Puffin Produce, Ian and son Patrick, who is now a driving force behind the business, have looked to fulfil the demand for an increasing amount of Welsh fresh produce from Welsh consumers and retailers. “I think people are looking to buy locally” explains Ian, “they’re aware of air miles and transport miles and carbon footprint, and I think it is important to buy locally to support local businesses.”
Always keen to push forwards, Ian and Patrick are already planning their next point of expansion; investment in their storage facilities in order to maximise their crops. “We need a store that will not only store the ware crop, but also store our seed when it arrives in January and February. We look to grow over 400 acres next year, which is several hundred tonnes of seed. It’s hard to manage in an ambient store, so looking to the future we would really like to put up a cold store.”
With the support of Tyfu Cymru, Puffin Produce and Welsh consumers the future looks healthy for Cresswell Barn Farm, with son Patrick looking to continue the business for generations to come.