Young Grower of the Year

Winner: Matthew Rawson

Young Grower of the Year, Matthew Rawson - image: Matthew Rawson
Young Grower of the Year, Matthew Rawson - image: Matthew Rawson

Matthew Rawson has growing in the blood, and it is fresh blood.

The youthful 33-year-old advises on 2,000ha of brassica and leek in Scotland, the North East and West Yorkshire. He currently grows 26ha of vegetables in his own business and belongs to several groups that help to shape the industry, taking over as chairman of the Brassica Growers Association earlier this year.

Last year was a big one for Matthew. He increased hectarage of asparagus - a crop fairly new to his Pasture Farm in Kilham, East Yorkshire - and continued to fine-tune major investments in planters, hoes, a new packing shed and tractors.

He also kept up the good work at industry level. Matthew represents the Brassica Growers Association on the Horticultural Development Company field vegetable panel, where he is currently vice-chair.

His stated aim is simply put: "To grow and sell good-quality produce sustainably while generating new and improved margins through good growing practices, expertise and a great workforce."

Expertise is what he is really good at and has led him to shrewd investments and smart decisionmaking in his hands-on growing business and consultancy work.

Matthew gained a Higher National Diploma in agriculture at Bishop Burton College in 1999 and was taken on as a vegetable agronomist by Agrovista and mentor Peter Parr. After a stint in Scotland, where his interest in brassicas and leeks really took off, he set up MRR Vegetable Agronomy and moved back to Yorkshire.

He started growing sprouts for the first time in 2004, an area of business that expands year on year, and introduced asparagus two years ago.

"I am spending my own money on the business and I'm marketing, harvesting and creating jobs," says the enterprising Rawson. "I am involved in all aspects of the growing cycle and am well placed to expand."

- The NFU is the voice of British farming and growing. It works to create the right environment for profitable businesses - by easing regulatory burdens, improving supply chain relationships, lobbying for evidence-based policy or through the professional services it provides. Its vision is for a thriving agriculture and horticulture sector that delivers on food production, economic contribution and environmental enhancement.

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