Growing crops in the UK can be a varied endeavour, especially when catering to the diverse taste buds of the British public. Stephen Jones has taken on this challenge, growing a crop of quinoa in the heart of Shropshire. We caught up with the Harper alumnus to ask him all about his degree experience and how he made the leap to grow a non-native crop and make it commercially viable.
Having studied BSc and MSc Agriculture, Stephen really loved his time at Harper Adams. He commented: "I enjoyed the close knit community and I found Harper gave a good balance between the academic and practical teaching.
"I come from a six generation family farm that was started 80 years ago by my grandparents. Farming has always been part of what I do so coming to Harper was an obvious choice."
As founder of The British Quinoa Company, Stephen has brought the crop to his family farm, growing his first commercial crop in 2013. Stephen explained how his degree and background helped make this come to fruition, saying: "Being from a farming background certainly assisted me in developing my overall business as I had access to the resources to achieve my ambitions. For example, it was possible to undertake small trials on the farm before starting to expand this over a wider area of farmland."
Seeing the great success of the crop, Stephen's business is booming. He commented: "My business grows and markets British quinoa grain to food manufacturers and supermarkets.
"The inspiration behind it was to build a business that added on to compliment our arable farm to help diversify away from standard arable crops to provide an element of diversity."
The product is sold by high street names like Waitrose and Marks & Spencer, boosting the fledgling business into a retail brand. Running trials, they are looking to expand their range in the coming years.
Stephen explained his future ambitions, saying: "I'm hoping to continue to grow the business and to try and develop other new crops that we can grow in the UK. I think there is a lot of new crops we might be able to start growing in the UK as our climate changes and we need to be ready to take on new crops to best suit our climate."
If you are interested in diversifying in agriculture or the food industry more specifically, you can learn these skills through our degrees that matter. For more information, check out our courses page here.