Pitch Up! “The Dragon’s Den of Farming” is Back

Following the first ever Pitch Up! in November 2021 – which saw a wide range of entries from food, drink and farming to fashion, beauty and leisure businesses – the team at Kingsclere Estates organic, regenerative farm is pleased to announce Pitch Up! 2022.

The Pitch Up! applications season, which runs from 1–30 November 2022, is inspired by Kingsclere managing director Tim May’s vision of building a circular community on the 2,500+ acre mixed estate in Hampshire.

Pitch Up! invites forward-thinking and environmentally-focused farmers, producers and enterprises onto the estate to make the most of its abundant resources – from fields, pasture and woodland to industrial units, offices and roadside retail space. But crucially, it’s also about creating a ‘closed loop’ system whereby these businesses can benefit from each other’s raw ingredients, waste or by-products – a growing community that feeds itself.

Tim May, Managing Director at Kingsclere Estates

Says Tim May: “We were blown away by the interest in – and breadth of entries for – our first ever Pitch Up! last year. From national radio and TV coverage to entries spanning everything from a cheesemaker to a shoe brand, turkeys to natural soaps, the possibilities and appetite for innovative, sustainable mixed land use in our circular community are really exciting.

“In the end 2021’s winning entry really surprised us, as it was something we’d never even considered – which is the great thing about this competition. Now the word is spreading even further, we can’t wait to see what this year’s Pitch Up! brings.”

Pitch Up! 2021 winners Daisy Sharp (26) and Dan Davies (26), who both live in London, were chosen for their sustainable pet food brand, Monch. For Monch’s first rabbit food range, Daisy – who has a background in horticulture, photography and looking after rescue rabbits – forages ingredients like chicory, dandelions, plantain wildflowers, willow and hazel growing abundantly on Kingsclere’s organic land, and dries them naturally on site. (The 2022 Pitch Up! logo colour is drawn from images of Daisy’s

Careful picking of leaves and stems from the hedgerows and herbal leys (planted at Kingsclere as part of its long-term organic farming and soil regeneration focus) encourages more growth, supporting biodiversity and eliminating waste from pruning activity already happening on the farm. Monch’s products are then packed at Kingsclere into 100% plastic-free boxes (designed by Dan, whose background is in advertising and graphic design). The pair are planning to plant trees on the estate to offset the carbon footprint of their deliveries once Monch starts taking orders this October. Unlike many pet foods currently sold in the UK, nothing is imported or packaged overseas, instead using what grows naturally and organically in our ‘back yard’.

Daisy and Dan, who heard about Pitch Up! through Riverford’s Wicked Leeks newsletter, were attracted to the scheme because of Kingsclere’s ethos and approach. Daisy says: “We saw it as a new way of working, as partners working together in a circular way, instead of the traditional employer/ employee or landlord/ tenant hierarchy. The guidance and support from Tim and the Kingsclere team has been invaluable; giving us help and advice, freedom and time to explore. They’ve really allowed us to grow by ourselves, rather than telling us what to do – but have been there whenever we need them.”

Adds Kingsclere development manager, Nikki Amor: “It’s really important to us that Pitch Up! offers space for innovation and experimentation. We’re very happy working with people in the early and proof-of-concept stages of their business, as well as those further down the line. Seeing the progress Daisy and Dan have made in the last few months – as well as their creative ideas and marketing savvy – makes us really excited about the next generation of land-based businesses.”.

Applications for Pitch Up! 2022 open on 1 November – go to kingsclere-estates.co.uk and follow @kingsclereestates on Instagram for more information.

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