Mark Green (pictured) is a second-generation farmer and co-founder of artisan crisp brand Two Farmers. Lodders invited Mark to share his story at its Rural Conference (February 2020), when he revealed a fascinating tale of highs and lows, diversification, environmental sustainability, and a milestone industry first.
For years Mark Green dreamt of making crisps from his own potatoes. He wanted to produce something that would firmly cement Herefordshire on the foodie map, but equally important was to produce these quality hand-cooked crisps sustainably and using locally sourced ingredients.
Mark and his friend Sean Mason, a fellow farmer, met one night for a pint of local beer and a packet of crisps. Truly passionate about the Herefordshire countryside that has enabled them to grow award-winning potatoes, that night they hatched a plan of how to honour and celebrate their potatoes – and the Two Farmers brand was born.
Two Farmers officially launched in 2018, but Mark’s story began eighteen years earlier when he returned to the family’s Ditton Farm in Peterstow, Herefordshire, after a period working at different farms across the world.
In 2000, the farm was a mixed enterprise, with beef and cattle alongside growing potatoes, sprouts, strawberries and sugar beet. In 2005 came the Foot and Mouth epidemic that proved devastating for hundreds of UK farms. For Mark and the family’s farm, it meant having to cease livestock farming, end the production of some crops, and a rethink of the farm’s focus and activities.
Chicken farming was added to the farm’s production. In fact, the farm was one of the first in the UK to have underfloor heating in the chicken shed. This was significant – not only for the chickens, but for Mark too, as it represented the beginning of a journey into renewable energy production and use at the farm.
In 2014 Mark installed an anaerobic digestion plant running on own-grown maize and sugar beet, and farm waste including chicken muck – which is turned into renewable energy that in turn also generates a healthy annual turnover for the farm, and quality fertiliser.
Sustainable crisp business venture
Mark and Sean not only share an interest in potato farming, but also in protecting the countryside around them.
Integral to Two Farmers since its launch is that the crisps are made from their own potatoes. Mark and Sean are committed to growing and using only the finest potatoes in their hand-cooked crisps. They grow Lady Claire, Lady Rosetta and Taurus varieties because of their excellent fry colour and high quality.
They are equally committed to giving back to the environment, so all the potatoes are stored, cooked, and packed using renewable energy where possible on site so that road miles are kept to a minimum This also helps maintain control throughout each process to ensure the finest end product, and the anaerobic digestion plant powers the crisp production.
This passion for stainability, as well as outstanding agricultural achievements, sparked a desire for Two Farmers to become the first crisp brand in the UK to launch a compostable bag, something Mark and Sean achieved after a journey of packaging discovery and surprises.
Since day-one, every Two Farmers crisp bag has been 100% compostable. This pioneering move means that the bags compost in under 26 weeks in a home composting environment.
TV appearances, Royal visits and awards
Since its launch, accolades, plaudits and interest in Two Farmers have poured in.
In May 2019, when The Prince of Wales was making an official visit to some of his Duchy of Cornwall estate in Herefordshire, he was welcomed to Ditton Farm (a previous Duchy tenant) to meet Mark and Sean, and other members of the Two Farmers team.
Earlier last year, they were also asked to take part in an episode of BBC Countryfile and the BBC show Farmer’s Country Showdown, which resulted in a huge spike in interest online for their crisps.
Ditton Farm also won an award for being the UK’s Most Carbon Neutral farm, and Two Farmers was presented with the coveted Great Taste Award.
Strength to strength
Two Farmers remains committed to promoting Herefordshire as a county of outstanding agricultural achievement.
There are now four flavours of Two Farmers hand cooked crisps available – Lightly Salted, Hereford Bullshot, Hereford Hop Cheese & Onion, and Salt & Cider Vinegar. All four flavours use locally sourced ingredients.
Demand for and stockists of Two Farmers crisps continues to grow. The brand is stocked in Selfridges, Booths, on the Eurostar, and in numerous delicatessens, pubs, and shops across the UK.
Two Farmers is hoping for a £1 million turnover in its first full year of trading accounts.
Contact Lodders’ Agricultural or Rural Sector team.
For news and information about Two Farmers, visit https://twofarmers.co.uk/