Waitrose working to encourage sustainable food production
Haygrove Ledbury grows conventional & organic berries and has been supplying Waitrose since 2001. Haygrove’s Mission Statement is to be a sustainable fully joined-up business in two hemispheres, considered as the leading quality grower of year-round berries & cherries, by our customers, partners & suppliers, constantly challenging with new growing systems and innovations.Haygrove were awarded Waitrose Demonstration Farm Status in 2014 for their work on Water Management, which has enabled their Ledbury farm to be almost self-sufficient in water, thanks to innovative and market-leading development in rain capture techniques. Climate change is one of the key factors that led Haygrove to set the objective of becoming fully self-sufficient in water at its Ledbury farm site, thereby reducing dependence on borehole and mains supply, and conserving the soft fruit grower’s most precious resource: H2O.
Another key challenge is to work with rather than against the natural environment. Rainwater is harvested and used for irrigation of the crop as nature would intend; counteracting the barrier to natural irrigation which polytunnels otherwise impose. The Waitrose Farm Risk Assessment encouraged us to further assess and develop our existing sustainable farming policies, by implementing set targets in key areas e.g. to set annual targets for the reduction of water usage per kilo of fruit produced and to measure organic matter content in soil and set annual targets for improvement.
Ontililli Farm and packhouse are located north-west of Mount Kenya in Nanyuki. At an altitude of 1850m, the farm is a key site for KHE and partners Wealmoor, who have jointly been long-term strategic suppliers to Waitrose for over 20 years. The site provides a year-round supply of legumes and Tenderstem broccoli, as well as a range of speciality crops as part of an exciting NPD pipeline.The farm won demonstration farm status in the Water category which underpins Wealmoor and KHE’s fundamental values on driving commercial sustainability and working in equilibrium within communities in which the farm operates. It was also awarded Winner of The Waitrose Way (Water Reduction) together with Wealmoor’s work on water at their site in Atherstone.
A deep understanding of soils, individual crop requirements and application methods has driven yields and improved water-use efficiency. Furthermore, the completion of a major dam project has secured quality production year-round despite seasonal fluctuations in rainfall and in an area with marked evidence of shifting climate patterns. Importantly, this continues to support the livelihoods for thousands of workers and their dependents. Working with and creating thriving communities in this way is an integral value which KHE and Wealmoor are wholly committed. This work was also recognised at the prestigious IGD Awards where it was awarded Winner for championing Ethical Responsibility.