Comment: Community that pays to be a part of

AS A teenage girl standing on the back of my father’s potato harvester, in one of the wettest years to date, I wondered why anyone would want to grow potatoes!

Holly Nutt is usually testing crops in the summer.

I never anticipated that I would, one day, be working for a highly successful business as the key account manager for a major crisping company. There again if I am truthful, farming isn’t a job, it’s a vocation, and when you are brought up in the farming world it tends to be ‘in your blood’.

Although I’m only 26, my passion for the industry, being brought up to understand farmers and farming and my company’s belief in me, are the factors that underpin my success. I have a long way to go, but by learning from those around me and consistently striving for excellence I know I will succeed.

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Based near Driffield, the job I do at Wholecrop Marketing is varied and challenging and it is that variety and challenge that makes it so interesting.

In the summer you will most likely find me in the field sampling crops grown specifically for us to meet crisping contracts. It’s vital that constant and efficient monitoring takes place to ensure specifications are met with dry matter, size and fry colour.

Once the potatoes are placed in store I’m frying samples, organising loads to the factories and ensuring sufficient crop is kept in perfect condition to meet contracts throughout the season.

Wholecrop Marketing was established in 2008 by ten like-minded farmers who wanted to bring together their skills to best market their produce. Their success has been phenomenal, supplying in excess of 120,000 tonnes of potatoes to the industry.

Although Wholecrop is a relatively ‘young’ company, this brings with it a sense of excitement and allows us all to be stakeholders in the company’s future. The ethos of the business is founded on collaboration, therefore forging and maintaining excellent relationships with my growers and customers is vital.

There are many challenges in the potato sector, as most growers will agree, given that we have had one of the worst seasons for a long time. A key challenge is that of controlling chitting in store, which is becoming more difficult as the industry responds to legislative changes in chemical usage.

Many might suspect that being female in what is still a male dominated industry can be a challenge, but I find if you have a sense of humour and you are open and honest, farmers will respect you.

My advice to a young farmer starting out would be to learn from those around you, but find your own path. Long hours, hard work, disappointments and set-backs sit hand in hand with the feeling of achievement when you get it right, working in the beauty of our Yorkshire countryside and belonging to the farming community.

To the British consumer, if you want a product that can be used in a multitude of ways to make tasty, healthy dishes, whilst being completely natural and excellent value for money, you cannot do better than a British potato.

Holly Nutt is a member of Future Farmers of Yorkshire, which unites younger farmers, vets and other industry supporters and is backed by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.