The first visit was hosted by Andrew Burgess, NFU Organic Forum chair and Agriculture Director of RBOrganic.
The team had a tour around the processing site, where they saw how carrots were washed, packed in to retail packaging and then stored ready for dispatch. Andrew showed the team the reed beds used to filter the water from washing the carrots.
Andrew explained how he overcomes pests and diseases on-farm, including trapping and releasing beneficial predators to control aphids.
A lesson in organic principles
The second visit was hosted by Clive and Tobias Martin, Bedlam Farms Organic.
Clive and Tobias showed the team a fertility building cover crop and land that is in organic conversion.
They explained how they manage the land in accordance to organic principles.
The team from Defra was interested to see the tenderstem broccoli being harvested and were also shown a variety of other crops that are grown on the farm.
In the packhouse tenderstem broccoli was being packed, while in the stores the team saw the huge variety of squashes Bedlam Farm Organic grow – some that make a great alternative to spaghetti.
How organics integrates with other farming sectors
NFU Organic Forum members Mark Wycherley and Adam Westaway also joined the visit, they were able to give the team an organic livestock perspective.
The visit was a fantastic opportunity to build relationships between the NFU and Defra's organics team. Members were able to highlight the challenging situation within organics and the wider farming sectors, with pressures on prices and reduced consumer demand for organic produce.
Key topics such as ELMs, trade, the Expert Group on Organic Production and the future organic regulations were all discussed.
The NFU Organic Forum look forward to working with Defra on the new regulations and challenges facing the sector.