Jason Schofield approached Neil Watkins in 2020 with a plan to set up a business allowing other farmers to share in the benefits that Neil had brought to Jason’s 100 acres of willow on his 500 acre farm in Yorkshire.
Although Jason is a relative newcomer into the farming world, his business skills, gained through running multiple, highly successful companies over many years, have proved invaluable in his management of Old Oakwood Farm. Following the 2008 banking crisis, he was able to sell a highly succesful archive storage business to a US investment agency in 2015 which in turn allowed him to purchase the farm and follow his boyhood dream of becoming a farmer. Old Oakwood Farm already had 12 acres of Willow planted – Jason took Neil’s advice and planted more, bringing his current energy crop total to 100 acres.
Neil was able to persuade me that the economics of growing energy crops made sense.
It was now obvious to Jason that Neil knew his stuff when it came to energy crops, and he realised that combining his skills in business growth and management with Neil’s energy crop knowledge could bring this exciting way of farming to more growers across the UK.
I got in touch with Neil to ask him to help me to increase the performance of my crops and through that, we both realised this is what other existing willow producers would want: it’s a no brainer. Spending a small amount of money to nearly double the potential yield of your crops – who’s not going to want to do that?
Jason continues to invest in Old Oakwood using incomes from his other businesses.