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Tom Bowles with business coach Nigel Scott of ActionCOACH

Farm shop entrepreneur Tom is outstanding in his field

The businessman behind Hartley Farm Shop and Café in Bradford-on-Avon has been named one of three finalists in the Farmer’s Weekly Farmer of the Year Awards.

Self-confessed foodie Tom Bowles has reinvented his family farming business, creating a local food and community hub with a £1m-plus turnover.

Tom studied economics at university, but eschewed an intended life in The City to return to the countryside, and his family’s 150-acre farm.

He started Hartley Farm Shop in 2008 with five staff. By 2014 he had a team of 35, had built a 70-seat cafe, and had developed space for other producers, including a small brewery, flower growers, and wood workers.

The business grew 25 percent last year, hitting a £1m turnover and six percent profit, and is forecast to turn over £1.2m this year with 10 percent profit.

About £190,000 has been invested so far, £70,000 of which was generated by the business.

The judges were impressed by Tom’s commitment to creating a vibrant hyper-local economy, and by his commitment to the environment. They also praised his business acumen:

“Most impressive, though, is Tom himself, who at just 28 years old has led this development. Aware of himself as a manager and continually keen to learn and improve, he has worked with a business coach and is leading a local Farm and Retail Markets Association (Farma) group,” they wrote.

“The coaching has helped him delegate better to his 30 employees and enabled them to drive things forward.”

Tom’s business coach, Nigel Scott, said: “”It’s great to see a Wiltshire business succeeding nationally. I’m proud to have been able to play a part in Tom’s success.”

Pearce Hughes, agricultural development manager at sponsor Asda, said: “This year’s local food farmer finalists have created three very different and exciting businesses, but what they each have in common is dedication, customer focus and an endless passion for quality local food from the farm. Each has worked extremely hard for their achievements.”

The winners of the Farmer of the Year Awards will be revealed at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on October 2.