Tolhurst Organic is nestled between the Chilterns and the river Thames just outside the village of Whitchurch-on-Thames in south Oxfordshire. With 18 acres in total (2.5 in a walled Garden and 2,000m of tunnel space), Tolhurst Organics are actually considered to be a small farm; it usually takes a lot more acres than this to make a financially viable unit.
Iain Tolhurst, along with his business partner Lin, have held the organic symbol for over 30 years, making Tolhurst one of the longest running organic vegetable farms in England, and were the first farm in the UK to become “Stockfree Organic”.
When we asked Ian (or Tolly as he is more often known as) why he got into organic farming, he cited the driver when they started in 1976 was to preserve birdlife and that meant protecting bio-diversity. “Other reasons are to provide healthy food for local people, to involve, inspire and educate people on the land about growing (we have an internship programme for entrants). Also to ensure that we can demonstrate that it is possible to grow excellent produce without using lots of energy and that we can maintain fertility without using large inputs from livestock. We have a very low carbon footprint some years it is a positive balance!” Here at Cultivate Oxford, our Vision is so closely aligned to this, you can appreciate why we have worked with Tolly and taken his advice since our very first days in 2012!
Other than the 11 varieties of squash, Tolhurst grow a total of about 70 different types of vegetables of which there are several varieties of each – so around 200 actual varieties. Ian’s favourite squash variety is Buttercup as it’s so tasty. Check out Tamara’s favourite squash recipe here and their website for loads more information.
Next year marks 40 years registered as organic so Tolly and the team are planning some celebrations. We’ll keep you posted!