Andrew Hodgson

A. and C. Hodgson

Sponsored by: ABP Food Group

Andrew Hodgson believes that if a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. And there is no shortage of jobs adopting that very ethos on his Isle of Wight farm in Shorwell.

As well as the 400 beef cattle, 1,500 sheep and arable unit he and his wife and sons have an arable contracting business and run a varied portfolio of diversifications.

Today, the family have three holiday cottages, an organic recycling business including the contract to spread all island sewerage sludge and digestate for a local AD plant and a mountain bike track. This on top of a new meat business is all in a day’s work at Cheverton Farm.

Andrew has steadfastly built the business up from renting the farm and buying 700 sheep and 90 cattle from his parents 28 years ago. He bought a further 250 acres of land adjoining the farm, took on the farm mortgage and built up and sold an AD plant since then. Despite some serious financial setbacks along the way he has never wavered from a positive outlook and determination to succeed.

Processing unit

In May 2019 Andrew built a dry-ageing butchery facility to process and market beef and lamb produced on the farm. It now processes 400 cattle and 1,500 lambs a year from the Hodgsons’ farm as well as 250 local pigs and employs seven full-time staff.

With around 70 per cent of its business serving the food service sector, the Covid-19 pandemic meant restructuring overnight.

It started producing sausages, bacon, burgers and meat boxes specialising in 40+ day dry-aged meat using a Himalayan salt chamber, offering free delivery to homes across the Isle of Wight.

Meanwhile Andrew has also restructured the beef unit, which now stands at 400 beasts sourced from suckler herds reared predominantly on grass whereas previous numbers topped 800 but with a reliance on cereals.

Challenges to the business include no slaughter house on the island as well as the additional costs of living on an island.

On winning, Andrew said:

We were absolutely thrilled to have won, particularly in a year like this which has been so difficult for everyone. It will give us and the team a huge boost in morale.

“We watched it together as a family and our staff were also watching it within their own groups. We were jumping around our living room so much that we didn’t hear the judges’ comments so we are looking forward to watching it back again.

“Within the farming community these awards really give us all something to strive towards, and it demonstrates that even a business like ourselves, on an island off the south coast of England can do this and we are part of the bigger picture of beef farming in the UK.

“We have also had a lot of comments on social media from people who are not necessarily linked to farming, so awards like this help us to reach a far bigger audience.”

What the judges said:

Andrew was a clear winner and impressed judges with his consistent and detailed involvement in so many different aspects of the farm business. Over the years he has changed the nature of the family’s beef enterprise with confidence and diligence and, despite unforeseen challenges along the way, retains an infectious enthusiasm and articulate vision for the future of the family business.