Iain Tolhurst on 40 years of organic horticulture: Lessons, trials and triumphs (part two)

  • 10.04.2024
  • Podcast

Bringing the fourth series of the SFT podcast to a close, Patrick Holden caught up with longtime friend and one of the pioneers of the UK’s organic farming movement, Iain ‘Tolly’ Tolhurst.

Tolhurst Organic, located on the Hardwick Estate between the Chilterns and the river Thames, is a model of sustainability, and one of the longest running organic vegetable farms in England.

For over 40 years, Tolly has been producing a wide range of seasonal, organic fruits and vegetables, which are sold to the local community through a box scheme. His farm was the first to attain the “Stockfree Organic” symbol in 2004, and there have been no grazing animals and no animal inputs to any part of the farm for over 30 years. To build soil fertility, Iain uses green manures as part of a crop rotation, as well as using vegetable and woodchip compost from waste materials.

With his extensive knowledge and experience of organic food production, Iain also delivers educational talks across the UK and beyond, and runs a consultancy service giving advice on organic conversion and production, helping to train and educate farmers and growers for the future.

During this episode, Patrick and Tolly explore the economics of farming and what it means to pay the ‘right price’ for our food. Tolly also talks about the productive capacity of Tolhurst Organic and how they’re feeding the surrounding community through their veg box scheme. Patrick and Iain delve into the current state of the UK farming sector amidst the changing policy around farm subsidies and how this is affecting both organic and conventional farmers, before closing with a conversation on the importance of demonstration farms for informing and educating people about the story behind their food and the need to incentivise farmers for this.

To find out more about Iain and Tolhurst Organic, follow @tolhurstorganicveg on Instagram, or visit www.tolhurstorganic.co.uk.

This conversation has been split into two episodes – for part one click here, or find the episode wherever you get your podcasts from.

To listen to more SFT podcasts, featuring some of the biggest names in regenerative food and farming, head to our main podcast page. And to keep up with our news, you can subscribe to our fortnightly newsletter or follow us on InstagramX or Facebook.

“We need to bring farming back into society. It’s become completely divorced from society.”
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