Jason Ambrose

Farm Manager, Tompsett Burgess Growers, South Norfolk

Harvest starts: Late July

Jason Ambrose was brought up in the Norfolk Fenland, in a family farming crops that included sugar, wheat, potatoes and cereal crops. He is the only of four siblings to continue the farming tradition and now manages the production of a range of organics at Tompsett Burgess Growers, including parsnips, onions, carrots and others.

The company was founded by Grower Clem Tompsett when he took over a small family farm in the 1950s and over the next decades steadily expanded his carrot business, which includes a lot of organic growing.

Jason says that the reality of organic farming is far removed from the stereotypical traditional view held by many about organics. “Modern organic farming isn’t traditional, it’s high-tech – probably more high-tech,” he says. “It’s different to conventional farming. It uses a lot of technology because you are studying and looking at everything constantly but treating it in an organic way to control any problems.”

But while technology has helped make organic farming more efficient, there is always hard work to be done. “People don’t realise how much goes into doing this job,” says Jason. “To start with you get into the field and test the nutrients and other aspects such as levels of disease. From there we are asking ourselves: “Do we plant here or not?”, and then have to decide what we want to plant and how big we want the crop – because that makes a difference to the planting density – and so on.”

It is expensive to farm organically, too, he adds. “Doing the drilling, hoeing, crop protection and harvesting takes a lot of equipment. We recently bought a new harvester for around £230,000 and a tractor it goes on for another £150,000 – that will only last you about five years and then you’ll be replacing it!”

“I love the doing, drilling and growing, particularly in the spring when things start off. It’s the smell of the land and just being out there – and then actually putting the crop in and seeing it grow and come up well. You always want perfection or at least a really good crop. Sowing it, growing it, and then selling a really good end product.”

Finally, Jason has a tip for getting the very best out of your British organic carrots. “I really like to eat just carrots – really fresh, young ones, lightly boiled with a nice bit of butter and pepper on them. The first pick of the year is the best.”

Meet the growers…

Joe Rolfe

Chris Negus

Chris Negus

Nick Taylor

Nick Taylor

Alan, Duncan and William Mitchell

Alan, Duncan and William Mitchell

William Rose

William Rose

Jason Ambrose

Jason Ambrose