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Young Farmers profile: Tom Collison, 23, brings a world perspective to family farming business

PUBLISHED: 08:04 16 November 2018 | UPDATED: 08:29 16 November 2018

Tom Collison of Terrington Young Farmers' Club. Picture: Norfolk Young Farmers.

Tom Collison of Terrington Young Farmers' Club. Picture: Norfolk Young Farmers.

Norfolk Young Farmer

In the latest in our series of profiles on the region’s Young Farmers’ Club members, 23-year-old TOM COLLISON explains how his international consultancy travels have broadened his farming perspective.

Tom Collison of Terrington Young Farmers' Club. Picture: Norfolk Young Farmers.Tom Collison of Terrington Young Farmers' Club. Picture: Norfolk Young Farmers.

My background is in the supply of fresh produce and cut flowers to supermarkets, having grown up on my family’s farm, JA Collison and Sons.

I used to work on the farm during my school holidays, but I have now worked in fresh produce, including fresh fruit production and plant breeding, for the past six years.

The majority of my work is consultancy, on an international level, which involves a lot of travel. However, I’m a farmer at heart and always use my spare time to work on the farm. My favourite time is harvest as we get to cover the whole farm in a very quick time period and see all of the wildlife.

I have worked full time as a consultant for Collison and Associates since January 2018, having left the fresh produce industry where I worked on research, development and innovation for one of the largest fresh produce businesses in the UK, predominantly looking at potatoes and carrots.

This was an exciting role as I got to work across the whole supply chain, from seed being delivered on farm through to the finished product ending up on supermarket shelves.

One of the things I am passionate about is food waste and I have been working with the University of Lincoln to develop a new strategy for food waste reduction and value addition for waste streams. This is exciting as I get to work with world-class scientists as well as farmers, producers and the supermarkets.

Young Farmers have supported me over the past 13 years by giving me opportunities to do things I could never have dreamed of, including running with the Olympic torch in 2012, international travel with the National Federation and creating friendships which will last a lifetime.

I am currently working on two Horizon 2020 projects – one focusing on short food supply chains and the Enabling project aiming to deliver greater value for farmers from biomass sources than traditional methods such as anaerobic digestion.

Both of these projects see me doing a lot of travel. I was in Warsaw, Poland, last week for SKIN (Short Supply Chain Knowledge and Innovation Network) and will be in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, for Enabling next week. The travel is good fun and I get to see a whole range of different businesses across Europe as part of this, which widens my perspective of the industry.

PROFILE

Name: Tom Collison

Age: 23

Occupation: Agri-tech and rural consultant / part-time farmer

YFC Club: Terrington YFC

How long have you been a YFC member?: 13 years

• Terrington YFC meets at Jephson Hall, Walpole Cross Keys, on Tuesday evenings. For more details about Norfolk Young Farmers contact the county office on 01603 731307.

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