Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Farmers Turn Garden Waste into a Profitable Business

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Farmers Turn Garden Waste into a Profitable Business

Article excerpt

Byline: By Anna Lognonne

Other people's garden waste is boosting the farming income for an entrepreneurial father and son team.

Joe Robinson and son Dan, who run a 1,250 acre livestock farm at Shieldykes, Felton - part of the Duke of Northumberland's Estate - came up with the idea of converting green waste, including grass cuttings and tree and hedge prunings into compost for use on agricultural land.

With financial support from Defra, the environment-conscious duo have established an organic composting service alongside their farm business.

And the Duke of Northumberland, who has supported the scheme from its inception, was invited to carry out the official opening of the new business, Com-Vert Ltd, at a ceremony at the farm yesterday.

Joe, whose family has been farming at Shieldykes for around 150 years, said: "We're a fully organic farm, we're involved with Defra's Organic Farming Scheme and have also been part of Defra's Countryside Stewardship Scheme since 2001, which means we use traditional management techniques that benefit the landscape and the local wildlife.

"We have a herd of 150 beef cattle and 2,000 sheep and are breeding our own to create fully closed herds.

"The environment is important to us - we're proud of the fact we're fully organic, and this has been extended to Com-Vert as the compost we produce is also fully organic and traceable and meets all the standards laid down by the Soil Association."

Dan added: "We felt there was a need for a company like Com-Vert because of the requirement for more recycling and less waste going into landfill.

"There was a gap in the market and Com-Vert offers an environmentally-friendly alternative to landfill as well as producing a useful product.

"We handle around 1,000 tonnes a month now at our two sites - one at the farm and the other at Ashington landfill site - and we're keen to expand, taking more green waste from doorstep collections and producing enough compost to supply other farms and garden centres across the region.

"In fact, business has been so good we're even looking to offer the Com-Vert idea as a franchise to others as a turnkey business. …

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