Ronnie & Jennie Wilkinson, Carlisle

“What attracted us was the regular income combined with the low work intensity. Neither of us is getting any younger and we wanted to find a crop that could help give us a secure old age.”

Jennie Wilkinson, who together with her husband Ronnie runs Park Fauld Farm in Durdar, south of Carlisle, explains why they chose to start growing willow (salix) under the ʻGrow Your Incomeʼ cultivation scheme run by Iggesund Paperboard.

Park Fauld Farm comprises just over 190 acres, of which 62 are currently used to grow willow. The couple, who originally joined another cultivation project several years ago, found that with bearing the additional cost of harvesting and transportation, they were only just breaking even:

“The cost of harvesting is one of the most important factors affecting profitability,” Ronnie says. “In the project we originally joined, the harvesting cost was deducted from our gross earnings, and when we looked at the result we hadnʼt earned any money. Weʼd just covered our costs.”

Ronnie Wilkonson

This expenditure has now been negated by Iggesund, who cover all harvesting and transport costs as part of the scheme.

“Because Iggesund guarantees a certain price level over time which is index-linked and also takes care of the harvesting and transport, a lot of the uncertainty disappears,” Ronnie explains. “This, together with Iggesundʼs investment in a biomass boiler, has created a whole new local market for growing bio fuel crops, making willow cultivation even more attractive. With the demand for renewable energy crops set to increase as fossil fuel prices inevitably rise, now is the time to get on board”.

In the short time since the Wilkinsonʼs joined the Iggesund scheme, they have already seen results. “We are now at a stage where we can clearly see income and expenditure and together with Iggesund we have devised and developed harvesting, storage and transportation systems to suit both producers and processors which are specifically tailored to this area.”

Ronnie concludes: “What makes the Iggesund scheme so different is that we deal directly with the end user. The contract proposals give us the regular income we hoped for when we first planted this crop.”