J&G Sharman

Grower

Jeremy and Gundula Sharman bought East Cannahars farm in 1986. They moved in with a young family and set to with the ambition to farm the land organically. Livestock play a vital role in any organic farm. To initiate this plan 12 Aberdeen-Angus cows and six ewes were purchased in the autumn of 1986, laying the foundations of the livestock enterprises on the farm. In 1987 they started the process of converting the land to become organic. 2 fields each year were selected for conversion and eventually the whole farm was a certified, organic, by 1995. The reason for this long process is mainly financial in that during the conversion period, the price for products is still at the conventional rate, and more often than not yields are down as well. Nevertheless, in 1989 a small area of potatoes and oats were grown in order to test the market. In those days the organic market was much smaller, and less predictable than it is today. Box schemes were not even thought of then! As a single farmer it is very difficult to trade with supermarkets, and in the 90s and early 2000s most big shops only carried a very limited range of organic produce. The Sharmans persevered with growing larger areas of vegetables, mainly potatoes and swedes as well as cereals, mainly oats. All three of these crops belong amongst the traditional staple of Aberdeenshire, and what could not be sold would be fed to the flourishing herd of Aberdeen-Angus cattle. At the same time as Jeremy began growing organic crops, Colin Ward, of Bridgefoot, was building up a small market garden and started selling boxes of organic vegetables to households in the area. With the new millennium interest in organic produce grew locally and nationwide. Soon Colin could not grow sufficient produce to supply his box scheme and the collaboration between the two farms started in 2002. For about 12 years Jeremy grew a selection of root veg, brassicas and leeks to help fill the boxes with veg whereas Colin would concentrate on raising more delicate crops in his poly tunnels. Of course, some seasons had more sunshine than others, but together they were able to supply a good range of vegetables for about 50 weeks in the year – quite an undertaking! In 2014 Jeremy decided to pass the field vegetable enterprise on to Mathew, apart from the potatoes. Matthew has grown all the vegetables at East Cannahars, since then. 2022 will be the 33rd year of growing organic field crops on the farm. Quite an achievement for some one to be fortunate enough to accomplish his dream to be a farmer, and an organic one at that!

I love the range of products and the idea of buying local. Thanks for everything :)

— Yolanda A.

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