A passion for diverse farming has driven Ian Wilkinson's career. Ian studied farm and grassland management at Berkshire College of Agriculture and 35 years ago he joined Cotswold Seeds, a family business based in Moreton-in-Marsh, becoming MD in 1998.
The ideas for FarmED were sown many years ago, since under Ian’s direction, Cotswold Seeds has built its reputation on developing forage, herbal leys, green manures and complex seed mixtures. Increasingly, the company acts as a bridge between farmers and the scientific community, sharing knowledge and expertise to improve soil health, animal health and ultimately human health, through the food chain.
Ian’s enthusiasm and expertise in this area has resulted in him being in high demand to give presentations at events, and address a variety of individuals and groups, from the Oxford Real Farming Conference to organisations such as the National Trust. It was always part of Ian’s vision to have a farm centre to provide a platform for deeper debate and discussion.
‘As farmers we are custodians of the land and we can’t keep taking from it without putting something back,’ says Ian. ‘But the beauty of diverse farming is that it’s a win-win system. For instance planting trees and hedges provides shelter, making it easier to bring livestock back onto arable land. This in turn enhances the soil, adding value to food products and at the same time creating a habitat for wildlife. I can think of nothing more thrilling than seeing the centre and fields of FarmED literally buzzing, alive with birds, beneficial insects, bees and people wishing to hear and share inspirational ideas.’