The new Chairman of the Isle of Wight branch of the CLA, Colin Boswell, believes the recent influx of new entrants to the Island’s rural scene make it a time of change and opportunity.
Mr Boswell replaced Laurence Taylor at a CLA committee meeting last night (Monday), in one of the most important rural roles on the Island.
Father-of-five Mr Boswell and his family run The Garlic Farm near Newchurch, a business which includes self-catering cottages and yurts as well as a fast-growing farm shop, restaurant and café, attracting more than 200,000 visitors a year.
He moved to the Isle of Wight as a child in the 1950s, where his father pioneered the growing of sweet corn in the UK, supplying the expanding supermarkets from the 1960s.
Fast forward several decades and Mr Boswell says there is a new influx of fresh faces to the Island who have the ability to help its rural economy evolve and grow – a group he calls the ‘new Victorians’.
Mr Boswell, who frequently rides his bike around the Island and has observed their impact, said: “New Island residents are increasingly present in the rural scene, and it is important we embrace them.
“I note the many changes taking place in upgrades of rural housing, a continual work in progress accommodating the needs of our new rural residents. Improved Wi-Fi technology links everywhere, boosting the number of people who commit to a full-time investment in Island life week in, week out rather than just arriving on a Friday night.
“I consider myself fortunate to meet many new Islanders. They are relatively informed, considerably younger than our average age gathered here and with the energy and tenacity to make an Island life a rich and rewarding one.
“Our new Victorians arrive with money to invest in improving their new location, hopefully to the benefit of all. I see the Island CLA as a natural home for many of them. We should be welcoming them and offering ourselves as a go-to source of knowledge and contacts within this community.”
Mr Boswell married Jenny in 1976 and joined his parents in partnership on the family farm. Over the next 20 years it grew from 300 to 1,500 acres, mostly sweet corn, and imported 2,500 tonnes of garlic a year from around the world to supply UK supermarkets.
In 1999 the business supplying supermarkets and manufacturers was sold and Colin and Jenny returned to their roots as a family farming business specialising in garlic, but continuing to diversify into 70 garlic product lines.
Over the last 15 years Mr Boswell has travelled widely researching the origins of garlic, from Kazakhstan to Eastern Turkey, and works as a garlic consultant across the world. He also features in TV cooking and gardening series related to garlic.
As the CLA Isle of Wight branch Chairman, Mr Boswell will be representing farmers, landowners and rural businesses across the Island.
He added: “I am grateful to Laurence for chairing the Island CLA through an extraordinary time. Thank you Laurence for taking on a totally unexpected situation, dumped in your lap, with such good grace, equanimity and attention to detail.”
We wish to place on record our sincere thanks to Laurence Taylor for his tremendous work, ideas and enthusiasm over the course of his chairmanship. We are delighted to welcome Colin Boswell into the role and look forward to working closely with him over the next few years.