Producer of the Month: Ray Bower, Lower Drayton Farm, Stafford
What better way to celebrate the dusting-off of barbecues and the beginning of Summer, than to profile a beef and strawberry farmer. From his laid back demeanour and engaging personality you would never know that Ray Bower is a very busy man. Not only does he rear beef from his 325 cattle and farm crops of wheat, oilseed rape and potatoes but he also regularly hosts school visits to help educate children about farming. On tours, children come into contact with his dairy herd, emus and pheasant chicks. Visits to the strawberry polytunnels often finish with locally made strawberry ice cream and the vintage tractor collection is always a favourite. In fact Ray is so passionate about engaging children in farm life that he has converted a corn store into an education room where Farmer and pupil discussions take place, usually before they venture out into the fields.
A keen participator of Open Farm Sunday (7 June 2009), Ray offers hands on study in the fields, from digging potatoes to bug hunting. He is also a pioneer of the stewardship scheme, whereby farming practice is adapted to provide habitat for wildlife. As is the case with many farmers, over the last five years Ray has introduced various diversification enterprises as a subsidery source of income. These include, a paintball site and an off road buggy track.
- Why do you do what you do?
Because I love working with animals and I love looking after the countryside. No two days are ever the same.
- What achievement are you most proud of?
Producing good quality animals for good quality food
- What is your most memorable moment?
I'm torn between saying when we won a Staffordshire Green Award in 2007 and everytime I go outside and find a new born calf.
- If you were Prime Minister, what one thing would you do to encourage more people to eat British food?
I would launch a national campaign, focusing on intiatives like Open Farm Sundays, to encourage ordinary people to visit farms and see how British food is produced
- Favourite food and why?
Fillet steak, served medium rare from one of our cows.
- What are your predictions for the future of British food?
As people are becoming more aware of where their food is produced and the pointless pollution caused from importing food such as eggs from Argentina, the British will focus on buying British.
- If you were an advertising executive what slogan would you use to promote British food?
Buy Fresh! Buy Local!
- Credit crunch tip?
Only buy what you need for a good healthy diet. Buy fresh food from your local shop. Buy less expensive cuts of meat and learn how to cook them efficiently to minimise waste and to save money.
- What's on the menu this evening?
Left over beef from Sunday's joint with a good hearty home grown salad, followed by fresh seasonal strawberries picked from our own fields and ice cream.
- How can people get hold of your produce?
We don't sell direct at the moment but watch this space. Our website is www.lowerdrayt onfarm.co.uk