A farmer’s life for me
Meet the farming families supplying the UK with fantastic produce all year round
When you pick up a loaf of bread or bag of potatoes it can be easy to forget the lengthy process that has gone into delivering the final product we see in the shops. In reality, cultivating crops involves months of patience, physical labour, and the hope for good weather!
As we approach Back British Farming Day, two TruckEast customers - David Cornwell of Cornwell and Son, and Andrew Murdo of Wroxham Home Farms explain why farming isn’t just a livelihood, it’s a lifestyle that requires passion and dedication.
David Cornwell, Cornwell and Son
For the Cornwell’s, farming was a long running dream. GV Cornwell was started in 1952 by Geoff Cornwell as an agricultural collection and delivery service, but it was Geoff and son David’s passion for farming that eventually took them (and the company) into an exciting new direction as a combined farmer and general haulier. It all started with one big decision in 1987….
Company Owner, David Cornwell comments, “In ‘87 we rebranded as Cornwell & Son, sold off our original premises which was situated in a village, and bought the farm where we operate to this day. We temporarily shut down the transport side of the business and focused solely on farming.
“I’d always wanted to farm; it was a dream that we made a reality. My father was unable to afford to solely farm but both of my grandparents were farmers – so it’s got to be in the genes somewhere!”
Since then, Cornwell & Son’s 500 acres of arable land on the edge of the fens has flourished into the source of sugar beet, barley and winter wheat.
In recent years, the family chose to reintroduce haulage back into the business. “We wanted to diversify, and luckily we’d kept a couple of the vehicles back!” David added, “Farming is our true passion, but I’ve always had a love for the Lorries and it will remain that way. “
When it comes to the haulage side of operations David emphasized that their Scania’s “play a big part” in the business; “they’re reliable, dependable, they’re the best”, he shared, “we have a good working relationship with TruckEast, and I consider Guy Richards a great friend after all these years, we have a lot of banter.”
The Cornwell family are part of the close knit farming community, which represents around 1% of the UK’s population. “Farmer’s pull together in a lot of ways” David, explained, “it can be tough work. The past two years we’ve had really lovely weather but this year has been a real humbug so far, even in the last few days being able to run the combine harvester has been a struggle.”
The business today is managed by David and his son Stuart as Cornwell and Son. “Stuart is part of the business, and I’m confident that our love for farming will carry down into future generations.”
And David’s thoughts on home-grown? “I’m wholeheartedly behind buying British produce”, he said, “Because it means guaranteeing quality - it is completely traceable from field to fork and that includes transport; whether it is a refrigerated or bulk grain trailer we have to be traceable in our actions.
“You can see that our products have the red tractor logo and are farm assured. Unfortunately not every member of the public understands what that means. Some aren’t aware that products outside of the UK and Europe are not farmed under the same regime, in places where the use of chemicals can be much higher.
“I don’t think we have been self-sufficient in food production in this country for a long time, and given a rising population I suspect the situation will slowly get worse coupled with the fact that each year our available chemicals are being withdrawn, which will have the effect of reducing the amount of food produced per hectare. I think our plant breeders are doing a brilliant job trying to develop plants resistant to bugs and diseases but it is a very slow, expensive task and we know there is lots of resistance to GM food production, maybe some of our chemicals should be reintroduced!
“Food producers in the UK have so much passion, from livestock to arable crops. We have some serious contenders for some of the best food suppliers in the world.”
Andrew Murdo, Wroxham Home Farms
Sixth generation contract farmers Wroxham Home Farms grow a variety of crops, including Wheat, Winter & Spring Barley, Oilseed Rape, Sugar Beet and Potatoes. You can expect to find their high quality crops in the products of household name brands such as Kettle Crisps and British Sugar.
“Food production is what we do” said Farm Manager Andrew Murdo, “high quality food to feed the nation.”
For the team at Wroxham, being able to present the red tractor logo on their products never ceases to be a source of pride. “It’s paramount for us”, Andrew added, “It demonstrates complete traceability and shows that we couldn’t be doing any better than we are in terms of quality.”
However, operations out of their 5,500 acre Estate aren’t limited to farming - they also offer a bulk haulage service, transporting over fifteen thousand tonnes of feed, cereals, aggregates and more each year around East Anglia and beyond. To run this they turn to their Scania trucks – “the reliability of our Scania’s is excellent”, said Andrew, “They’re easy to get people to drive them.”
Regarding the decline in British self-sufficiency, Andrew shared his thoughts on why the solution is close to home. “It’s a question of being reliant on what we produce - we never used to eat strawberries in January, but now we have access in Supermarkets to products from around the world at any time of the year. Eating seasonally supports the work of your local farmers.”