We spent Sunday afternoon with Iain Tollhurst as he guided us around his organic farm just outside Whitchurch-on-Thames on the other side of the river to us. From here we have a supply of organic fruit and vegetables delivered to our door every Thursday. The carrots are often crooked and earthy but we carried out a blind taste test within the family. There is no doubt that this food tastes better - and is better for us.
Most organic suppliers deliver in boxes because they stack well in the back of a van. Tollhurst Organics deliver in bags because – apparently – they can be carried more easily on a bicycle.
Iain Tollhurst manages his farm with incredible insight into how nature operates. There are no fertilizers or insecticides – as you might expect, but also he does not use animal manure. He does not rear animals so cannot be sure that manure from other farms would match his high standards. Instead, on a seven-year rotation, two of the years are used to grow green compost. These crops are simply used to recharge the organic content of the soil, trapping nitrogen and other nutrients.
Iain Tollhurst’s commitment to working as part of a sustainable system is impressive. He only supplies the local area avoiding food miles. He tells a story that when approached by people outside his patch he not only will not deliver but he will not sell to people that travel from outside the local area to collect. For someone who has to live on the income from his business this is putting his sustainable principles before commercial logic.
Every community should have an Iain Tollhurst to feed their local community not only for high quality food but also to conserve the biodiversity of the local countryside.