Cultiv8 managed to squeeze a lot into 2017, here is a recap of what we got up to throughout the year.
We kicked off the year with the Inaugural Cultiv8 Ball in February. Our theme was the Best of British and we were very impressed with the lengths that people went to with the decorate your own table competition!
March was a busy month, we started out with a meeting with Gary Waterfall, who came to talk to the group about his experiences in the RAF and related everything back to managing people and yourself. This was a fascinating talk and everyone went away with something to think about.
Later on in March a number of Cultiv8 members attended the Shuttleworth Lecture, where Charles Shropshire talked through his views on Brexit, and we rounded the month off with an inspiring talk from our very own Tom Martin, who talked to us about his experience when he travelled to the RASC conference in Singapore through a Cultiv8 grant.
In April Cambridgeshire Countryside Watch and the Cambridgeshire Rural Crime Action Team (RCAT) joined us to talk about rural crime, what we can do to help combat it and how Cambridgeshire is more advanced in rural policing than our neighbouring counties.
May was a real eye opener when we visited Johnsons of Old Hurst. A farm that has built on its success and reputation through diversification and thinking outside the box, we took a tour around the farm which is populated with buffalo, red deer, ostrich and crocodiles we also took a look around the farm shop, tea room and steak house. Members were also invited to attend the Societies Farm Walk around Thurlow Estate, a farm based on a Second World War bomber airfield, using a former hanger as part of their impressively sized grain store.
In June a Special Interest Group visited Dawn Meats at Cardington to walk the production line and hear about the supply chain of both cattle and sheep before and after they the Cardington site. We also heard about the reach of the Dawn Meats brand throughout Europe.
July involved a visit to Milton Estate for a tour around the Stables and Kennels, including the striking roundhouse in the stable yard currently acting as a tack room. We also heard about how the Fitzwilliam Hunt work with farmers across the Estate and beyond with both the hunting and the removal of deadstock.
Syngenta helped us kick start September with a special interest group focused on how selection of spray nozzles can improve efficacy and reduce wastage. Our main meeting for September was a tour of CN Seeds at Ely where we heard about the work that they put into plant breeding and producing seeds for the market.
Jane King, CEO of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) came to talk to Cultiv8 about the work that the AHDB are involved with and what has changed within the board over the past few years. Jane also covered her career journey including her time as Editor at the Farmers Weekly.
October also saw the launch of the Cultiv8 benchmarking group. In partnership with the AHDB our members have the opportunity to record their home farm results on the FarmBench system in order to make comparisons and analyse what improvements can be made to members business at home.
We also ventured beyond the East of England borders to Westminster for a tour of the Houses of Parliament, a meeting with Baroness Byford and the opportunity to watch the House of Lords in session.
Novembers visit was a tour around the Dodson & Horrell factory in Islip, where we saw the extent of the business they are running, making everything from insect feed to horse feed. The efficiency required to continue sustainably manufacturing the products is impressive, as is the drive for business development and expansion.
We rounded off the year in the Northampton Suite at the Showground with a social, to accompany our mulled wine and mince pies we sampled crocodile steaks, zebra steaks and wild boar burgers.
Amongst all of this we also launched an award where we fund a member of Cultiv8 to attend the Oxford Farming Conference, two of our members were finalists in the Farm Business Awards and we had a lot of members take up the discounted ticket on offer for the East of England Farming Conference.
2017 was a busy year and we look forward to developing our programme further and finding some more exciting talks and visits for 2018!
More about Cultiv8
01733 234451- Agriculture Extension
Cultiv8, East of England Showground, Peterborough, PE2 6XE
Chairman- Rob Wilkinson
Vice Chairman- Charles Robinson, Harry Horrell
Committee- Tom Arthey, Ben Beazley, Hannah Darby, Jamie Mashall-Roberts, Amy Panton, Peter Sharpley, Claire Wright