A family-owned business which makes eco garden compost from Herdwick wool and bracken has been selected as a finalist in the Micro Business of the Year category of the prestigious Growing Business Awards.
Dalefoot Composts, based at Heltondale near Penrith, has been shortlisted for the awards which recognise the UK’s most outstanding entrepreneurs and high-growth businesses.
The company makes a range of premium peat-free organic composts, used by champion growers and stocked in over 170 nurseries and garden centres, with many ingredients harvested from the local fells – lower grade hill sheep wool that farmers find difficult to sell and invasive bracken. Lockdown saw demand for the composts soar as the country spent more time in their gardens and sales in the peak week saw 1290% growth compared to last year. Dalefoot’s team managed this ‘compost rush’ efficiently and safely, signing up new stockists and thousands of new mail order customers.
The company’s ethos centres around driving positive environmental change within the horticultural industry and leading by example, proving that gardening can be done in a more sustainable way. Uniquely, as well as making peat-free compost, the business also restores damaged peatlands across the UK, from the Cairngorms to Dartmoor, using innovative techniques, working to fight climate change and highlighting the devastating effects to the environment, wildlife and history of peat-harvesting in horticulture.
Simon Bland of Dalefoot Composts, who runs the company with Professor Jane Barker, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been shortlisted for this prestigious award, particularly given how testing the year has been for everyone. We’ve been so proud of how our small team has stepped up to the challenge over recent months, managing a huge uplift in sales, maintaining quality production standards and signing up lots of new customers, whilst often working remotely from home.
“Our expansion means we are in a position to take bracken and wool from more farmers. Last year we worked with over 50 and we’re aiming to double that, helping even more farmers and local landscapes.”
The winners of the Growing Business Awards will be announced on November 25.