In his role at Daylesford Organic, Jez Taylor oversees all plant-based production on the farm. “We’re not specialists in one crop, we’re more of a traditional market garden, always looking to grow, no matter what the time of year,” he explains. “That’s what Daylesford Organic is all about, producing a seasonal range of foods. The most environmentally sound food to be eating right now is always what’s easiest to grow,” he adds, “those that are in season.”
After chancing upon an advert for the job in a local newspaper, Jez became part of the Daylesford Organic team in 2008. “I’d been here on a growers visit and, if it had been any other time in my career, I would have thought, ‘that’s interesting, I know someone for that job,’ but it was right for me at that time.”
Surrounded by plants from a young age, Jez was born into a family of horticulturalists. “My father was a grower advisor for ADAS, the Ministry of Agriculture’s advisory service in the fifties,” he explains, “before setting in Evesham where my parents bought a farm shop.” This, combined with a background in setting up his own market gardening business, and a brief stint as a consultant for the Eden project, meant that Jez brought a completed and rounded knowledge of the horticultural world with him to Daylesford Organic.
“There also aren’t that many people who have grown up with the skills to grow a diversity of crops,” he says of his experience in the industry, “the way horticulture works these days, you’re either a gardener, a tree surgeon or a farmer, you don’t really get market gardeners.”
A big advocate for using and developing traditional techniques within a fully sustainable culture, Jez’s pioneering approach in his role is obvious. “The thing that’s stuck with me and made me so passionate about what I do is the strong work ethic I got from working with my parents when I was young, he explains. “Working in a horticultural environment is all about being efficient with your time to get jobs done as quickly as possible. But also multitasking, keeping your mind on all sorts of elements: irrigation, feeding, composts.”
Inspired by the sustainable ethos of the Daylesford Organic brand, Jez describes the necessity of growing a wide range of produce 365 days a year. “You can be sure that a plate for food at Daylesford will look very different to a plate of food elsewhere because of the varieties we grow. When you grow diversely through the year, pest and disease don’t become such big problems,” he says, “you don’t have all your eggs in one basket, you’re never growing too much of one pest-sensitive crop in one area. Weeding, watering and planting at the right time of year are our main concerns, and that’s what you learn with organics.”
Photographer: James McNaught Styling: Sophie Warburton Hair and make up: Claire Portman