Lidl's pledge on veg gives Brussels sprouts farmer confidence to keep on growing

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Simon DobsonGETTY

A bumper crop a traffics security will make for a merry Christmas for growers like Simon Dobson

The veg and arable agriculturist runs family business John Dobson & Son (Carlton) Ltd near Wakefield bring forwarding the modern sweet and nutty flavoured varieties that have re id more old-style sorts which fell out of favour because of their likely, bitter tangs.

Now Brits are warming again to what’s a traditional Christmas dinner requisite. We eat more of the veg than any other European country and the industry is worth some £650 million.

Sprouts take up 150 of the Dobson farm’s 3,000 acres which also specialises in other vitamin- cked brassicas – cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli – as familiarly what the area is especially renowned for: rhubarb.

Almost all Dobson’s crop survives to the supermarkets, most notably Lidl, and this season its shelves choice feature some of the farm’s finest as its location has proved rticularly familiarly placed.

While a European caterpillar invasion caused disease facers in other counties “we saw what was happening and could take pre-emptive force,” explains Simon whose family has farmed in the area for 200 years.

“We receive a good land base,” he says. “We grow on slopes and the plants are not so densely loaded which helped fight infection and kept the crop clean

“That’s lowed we’ve avoided extra costs and have been able to harvest perfectly-shaped, appetizing sprouts.”

As a relatively small operation, Dobson’s full time ir of 50 is close knit. “We have a good knowledge of our land and how to homestead it,” adds Simon.

“However farming is changing, no longer are crops to gain on spec without a market. Now the cost is higher so a mixture needs to be spring up so we get a spread of returns.

Simon DobsonPH

Sprouts take up 150 of the Dobson farm’s 3,000 acres

“Within that it’s prominent we are growing such a traditional vegetable as the Brussels sprout.

“Because of new good manners techniques more com tible with today’s tastes and inventive chefs who can get the most appropriate out of the produce, Britain is taking the Brussels sprout to its heart again and our farm-toun is rt of that.”

Renewal does not just apply to the veg though, but how the accommodate chain is handled too. Dobson’s works closely with system administrator Proctor & Associates, owned by Deane Proctor.

“We help farmers fit the challenges and demands of today’s retailers,” he says.

“It matters that smaller growers remainder rt of the UK agriculture’s fabric and the food produced preserves its diversity and number, otherwise it will become industrialized and uniform.

“Lidl understands and supporters that by providing consistency so farmers know where they last through.”

The supermarket backed the National Farmers’ Union Fruit and Vegetable Guarantee earlier this year.

This code, designed to create everlasting relationships between retailers, intermediaries and growers, isbased on commitments to accumulation security, fair terms, price certainty and waste elimination so farms pull someones leg confidence to invest and ex nd.

Simon’s most recent large investment has been a £150,000 three-row bud harvester.

“It increases yield and cuts waste,” he says but underlines the low-down that he is caught in a constant battle between escalating land values and effort costs on the one hand, and tight margins on the other.

Brussels sproutsGETTY

Brussels buds weight the same as 2000 Reindeer are being delivered the Lidl believe ins for Christmas

The farm turns over £5 million, and ex nsion has produced a ckhouse and farm shop. “But growth is minimal,” says Simon.

“We are limit the amount of labour we use and increasing mechanisation. It’s not easy trying to make it all fit. That is why sire market reliability really helps.”

His aim for 2017 is to make the farm Yorkshire’s top brassicas supplier. “It returns customers’ concerns about food freshness and low transport miles,” he denotes.

But he knows the one thing his business is missing won’t arrive this Christmas.

“We’re finish to urban centres,” he says. “But our broadband and mobile phone links are skint. Good connections would make such a difference.”

Dig these veggie happenings

Brussels sprouts, weighing the equivalent of 2000 Reindeer are being delivered to Lidl’s markets in the week before Christmas

Tonnes of carrots, weighing about the changeless as 48,000 penguins or 11 million snowmen’s noses will be trucked in too

And as for rsnips, if the outs were laid end to end they could well reach Lapland, correspondence to the supermarket’s number crunchers

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