National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

The back British farming promoter

Hannah Kinston and John Davies – Netherseal YFC 

When Hannah Kinston visited an award-winning Cheshire cheese maker that used milk from her family’s dairy farm, she walked away with a palette of produce and a business idea.

Together with her boyfriend John Davies – both members of Netherseal YFC – they developed an idea for a business that has helped them through university and is now big enough for them to take on full-time staff. In three years, they have grown to sell more cheese in a week than they did in their first year. Originally John and Hannah Ltd, in the last three months they have become the British Food Box and have now quadrupled the size of their enterprise.

“I did train to be a vet,” said Hannah a University of Nottingham graduate. “But now the business is such a success, I’m putting my vet career on hold indefinitely.”

A chance visit to Joseph Heler’s dairy four years ago was where Hannah offered to sell a palette of their handcrafted cheese at local agricultural shows and food events. After successful show sales, the couple saw the potential to sell even more to raise funds to see them through university. 

“The cheese was so popular, I kept going back for more and we then started selling to local farm shops, restaurants and pubs. We effectively became fine-food wholesalers,” explained Hannah whose entrepreneurialism is also fuelled by a passion to promote British farming. “Our idea is to support more local farmers and to educate the general public about farming and buying British. There’s a lot of negativity about farming and by being at the shows, the general public get to taste and experience British produce, which is much more powerful than leaflets and posters.”

Young farmers is there USP 

Hannah, who lives on a dairy farm in Burton upon Trent and John, who lives on a beef and arable farm just down the road near Ashby de la Zouch, believe that being young farmers is their USP.

“Farmers can chat to us about farming as we have seen the highs and low of it and understand what they’re going through. That’s what makes us different to other wholesalers,” said John. “We care.”

“Quite a few farm shops are owned by farmers who have struggled with cash flow and have had to diversify. If you can help them then you should. We’re not a greedy sales rep that’s just trying to fill the fridge and then run off. We want to help them succeed.”

Despite never selling to businesses before, Hannah believes their YFC experience has helped them grow the business. Both Hannah and John have held roles in Netherseal YFC and the pair got together through the club when they were 17. As Club Secretary, Hannah organised a fundraiser to cycle 116 miles to Skegness and spent time getting support and donations from local businesses. 

“It made me realise how much potential is out there, and I learnt about ways to advertise using posters, radio and social media,” said Hannah.

British Food Box uses its social media account to help educate followers about British farming. With both John and Hannah coming from farming families they are well placed to share positive messages about food and farming. They also get support from fellow YFC members who are often recruited to help share messages and sell cheese at local shows.

“YFC has really built up our confidence and skills. You experience teamwork through competitions and you meet so many people from across the country. We make sure our company gives back to YFC too as we sponsor our club every year and provide work for members where we can. We know they all share our passion for food and farming so they’re always great at selling at the shows too,” said Hannah.

It’s their ethos to support local farmers that has helped grow British Food Box to operate in five counties – Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Leicestershire, Cheshire and Shropshire. Their sights are set nationally though to offer a local service in all counties and despite having a premium product, they’re keen to make them affordable. 

“At the shows we also sell blocks of cheese that are cheaper than the truckles and waxes but are still as good. This is so families can buy a few packs and enjoy them without it costing the earth.

“We have found most people want to support British farming but not at any price,” added Hannah who wants to focus on cheese before expanding into other produce. “We want to be 100% British. We are two young farmers making a difference.”

www.britishfoodbox.co.uk

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