Nick Herbert visits Sussex Gold

Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert was in Partridge Green on Tuesday morning (11 August) to meet a farmer who is producing the only English sunflower oil available on the market.

The Shadow Environment Secretary was at the 1000-acre Priors Byne Farm to meet John Ford who launched his Sussex Gold brand of sunflower oil, rapeseed oil, dressings, sauces and marinades just over two years ago.

The entire process of growing, cold pressing and bottling the oils is carried out on the farm - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week - and Mr Herbert was shown how the full operation works.

Following a tour of the farm, Mr Herbert was told about Sussex Gold's ambitious plans for the future.  After a poor summer in 2008, Mr Ford said that he was optimistic that 2009 will generate an improved yield and is planning to continue expanding the business.

Mr Ford, whose family has farmed in Sussex since 1946, also had an opportunity to discuss a range of farming issues with Mr Herbert, including the Single Farm Payment scheme, the impact of climate change, the need to produce more food in the UK and the growth of organic farming.

Since their launch in 2007, Sussex Gold products have won two gold stars at the prestigious Great Taste Awards and are now available from around 400 outlets, mainly in the South East, including supermarkets, farm shops, delis, hotels and restaurants.

John Ford commented: "I was very pleased to welcome Nick Herbert to my farm in Partridge Green.  We grow what we believe to be the only sunflowers for oil in the UK and I hope that he enjoyed the stunning sight of them in full flower.  It was an informative visit and I was impressed by Nick's knowledge and enthusiasm for his role.  It was a privilege to meet him."

Nick Herbert commented: "It was my first visit to a farm producing sunflower oil and I was fascinated to see how the whole process works.  I'm very grateful to John for showing me around and it was interesting to hear about his plans to make Sussex Gold products more widely available in the UK."

Mr Herbert added: "It's great to see a local producer in Sussex doing so well and breaking into new markets.  It's a good example of how farmers are adapting to meet the challenges of climate change and seizing new opportunities.  Sussex Gold has already enjoyed a lot of success and I hope that the business will continue to grow."



Notes for Editors

1. For the website of Sussex Gold, visit

2. In the photograph Nick Herbert (left) is shown with John Ford.

Christopher N Howarth