Helen Browning’s Organic has won the prestigious Wiltshire Business of the Year 2008 Award for Outstanding Excellence.
Organic farmer Helen Browning, who spearheads the eponymous organic pork to pub business, was described as being “synonymous with the county” and “going hand in hand with the business success of the area.”
The panel of judges for the award included business leaders from NatWest, the Wessex Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses; Bristol lawyers Veale Wasbrough sponsored the award.
“Helen Browning impressed the judges during their visit to Eastbrook Farm with what she and her team have achieved across all areas of their business, particularly in the face of hurdles such as foot and mouth disease which had a significant impact on its export operation, ” said Doug Locke, partner at Veale Wasbrough. “Helen Browning’s Organic has taken the lead with its innovation and high standards of quality.”
For over 20 years Helen Browning has been tireless in her pioneering endeavours to introduce people to good, healthy food, which also upholds the highest animal welfare standards. “Integrity, style and good taste” are the company’s watch words and the success that Browning has had persuading local customers, national food critics and now business leaders that there is another way of farming is testament to the way the company has stuck to its high ideals.
However, it wasn’t always so easy. When the brand was established in the late 1980s, an organic meat market did not exist – undeterred Browning set about creating the market. She converted 1,300 acre Eastbrook Farm to organic methods and set up Eastbrook Farms Organic Meat to supply consumers via a home delivery service. This box scheme is thriving today. Added to this is the supply of branded meat to leading supermarkets and an event catering business, which counts major events such as Lords Cricket, Goodwood, Ascot and Badminton, as regular venues.
The most recent diversification has taken the company into the pubrestaurant business in the form of The Royal Oak in Bishopstone, where some food travels less than 10 metres to the table and the vast majority is from the farm and other local growers. Business at the pub has grown four fold in the 16 months under Helen Browning’s stewardship.
Browning’s outdoor pig farming system was the first of its kind in the country and a template for later organic pig farmers – the pigs live naturally in family groups on clover pastures; and a decade ago she introduced a unique welfare-friendly veal system. Tesco is currently trialling a range of her organic rose veal products.
The impact of Helen Browning’s 21 years at Eastbrook can be seen in the enhanced landscape, the 35,000 trees planted, more than seven miles of hedgerows restored, virtually zero soil erosion, increasingly diverse wildlife population and zero pollution of the water table. The company provides upto 40 jobs locally, depending on the season, contributing to village and community life.
“I think it’s fantastic that a rural farm based business has won,” says Helen Browning. “It is a great tribute to the hard work and inspiration of everyone working at Eastbrook Farm.”
“Our business model has opened up new markets and customers,” says Tim Finney, managing director of the Eastbrook operation. “We are actively looking at ways to bend the business more to fit the big changes heading the way of food producers and consumers.”
For more information about Eastbrook Farm and Helen Browning Organics: www.helenbrowningorganics.co.uk