MEET THE STAR OF OUR 'FARM TO FORK' VIDEO, GROWER ROD FOX, WHO SHOWS THAT SMALL TRULY CAN MEAN A BEAUTIFUL RESULTS.
With a farming heritage that goes back to 1960, you’d think nothing could surprise Rod Fox, cabbage supplier to Eurest. Except, perhaps, the weather: “It’s one thing you can’t control,” he said during early 2013’s snowy start. “We generally manage to keep things moving. The most important thing is to keep the client informed, and that’s our golden rule here. And we always make sure we’ve got a week or 10 days’ supply in our cold stores.”
That kind of service is a point of pride for Rod, whose company McHale Marketing has been supplying white, green, red and Savoy cabbages to us since 2011 from its base in Lincolnshire; but McHale itself has been trading since 1994.The company’s BRC packhouse is in Friskney near Boston and all its produce is grown within an eight to 10 mile radius.
“We’re very much seen as a local grower. Thanks to word-of-mouth recommendations we are growing bigger but, in fact, our operation is tiny. We have a network of just five or six growers who between them help us supply Eurest and others.”
McHale’s central operation is even more modest, with just Rod and his wife Michelle running the show. “I do the field stuff and planning, Michelle does the in-house organisation — she sorts the contracts out and tells me how much acreage she needs, which products and when they are needed. I sit down and plan all the acreages out so we’ve got a continuous supply coming from our growers.”
Supplying Eurest happens across a six-month window in the year, ending in June. Then there’s a two month break for planting and the process starts all over again. Once the season is over McHale and Eurest review how the operation has gone to see if everything went to plan — that’s when the tight communication Rod references really shows its value. “In the bad weather conditions Michelle emails photographs of the crops to Eurest and we try to keep them informed.”
“The relationship is built on trust and mutual respect,” says Rod. “I think that really matters to both sides. But we give them good service and a quality product, grown locally with minimal food miles. We’re pretty proud of that.”