FINALIST FOR FAMILY FARMING BUSINESS
OF THE YEAR
Sponsored by: Morrisons
The Wilson Family
R.J. Wilson & Sons, Market Place Farm, East Yorkshire
Since moving back to the family farm in East Yorkshire, brother and sister Tom Wilson and Alice Maltby have worked hard to devise new income streams for their family farm in East Riding, Yorkshire.
Over the past 50 years, the farm’s structure and primary enterprises have changed drastically from a livestock farm with around 20,000 chickens, a pig unit, dairy herd and 600 Christmas turkeys, to a largely arable operation in the 1980’s which moved to willow plantations and some land being placed into stewardship schemes as a result of a crash in cereal prices in 2000.
With Tom and Alice’s father, Henry, looking to take more of a back seat and Tom and Alice having returned home, re-investment initially saw Alice set-up Wilson’s Willow, an outdoor learning centre set within the willow fields for visits from local schools and educational courses for adults and Tom re-building the arable and Christmas turkey production side of the business from 100 back up to 600 birds per year.
Explaining the business today, Alice says: “In 2012, we planted the vineyard which now produces a range of English wines, alongside the wedding business which hosted for 15 couples in our own traditional pole marquee last year.”
Alice now heads up the weddings, sales and marketing side of the business and is supported by her husband (Andy) who designed and maintains the website and Tom wife (Nikki) and daughters (Ellie and India) who work at the weddings.
Tom and Henry manage the vines, arable and Christmas turkey side of the business with plans to develop a visitor centre and a winery.
“With income doubling year-on-year in the past three years, we are focussed on expansion and are looking to host more weddings and increase output from the vineyard in producing more bottles annually,” says Alice.
“We are also keen to create more visitor opportunities by hosting tailored courses and experience days so we can offer more to our growing customer base.”