Getting a ‘Wiggle On’ in the Garden

Entrepreneur Heather Gorringe founded Wiggly Wigglers, the Really Rural Store, as a result of her father heaping manure outside her kitchen window.

An unusual motivation maybe but she explains, “Years ago I used to help Dad with his flock of pedigree Suffolk sheep; they pooed a lot and Dad used to put it all by my kitchen window.  In his direct manner he simply told me ‘to deal with it’, so I began researching ways of reducing the manure heap.  I found out that worms could actually reduce the equivalent of 8 bins of waste to just one bin so decided to peruse that method.  That was in 1989 and only old men were composting then; it wasn’t a trendy thing to do at all.  But I tried it and it worked so I kept going.”

The bubbly business women continues, “I had always wanted my own business and my big break came when I married Phil in 1992; we moved to a farm that had loads of old sheds which meant that I could try new products and get more stock.  The business grew steadily and now we employ over 15 people at Wiggly Wigglers.  20 acres are set aside for sunflowers which we use as cut flowers now and what’s left will be harvested and dried for bird food.  All our wild flowers are grown on another farm (for minimum Flower Miles) and we still farm an additional 1200 acres.  It’s a Duchy farm,” she adds, “owned by Prince Chares, who has always supported Wiggly Wigglers.  He is a legend,” she continues, “encouraging family farms to thrive; he is the best spokesman for British Agriculture that I can think of.  We had a great day when he came to visit.”

Heather goes on to admit, “My absolute passion is composting and wildlife.  I’m not a great gardener; I don’t do the digging and planting but I love the harvesting and eating.  I’m a bit of a glory hunter,” she laughs.  However it is the connection between gardening and farming that gave me the confidence to ‘step up a gear’ with the business.  I felt that the connection between gardeners and farmers was getting weaker and that essential knowledge was being lost too.  The wisdom that the farmers have is invaluable to gardeners; they know that spindle berries are good for robins and that ploughing land isn’t good for earthworms.  Ironically, gardens were becoming outdoor rooms full of steel structures and no one was addressing the effect that decking and paving big areas was having on wildlife.  Farmers couldn’t use certain sprays but gardeners could.  I wanted to try to readdress the balance and re-establish the positive link between gardening and farming.  It was as a result of that empathy not sympathy,” she says firmly, “that local farmers started saying ‘we’ll plant sunflowers for you to sell as bird seed …’”

“Now we just ‘tickle’ on,” Heather laughs.  “It’s hard to take yourself too seriously when you spend your days with cows, corn and compost. We have great customers that trust us and our products and we pride ourselves on being right at the end of the phone if they have a question.”

To find out more about Wiggly Wigglers products, listen to the podcasts or even watch the Wiggly Cinema pop into www.wigglywigglers.co.uk or call 01981500391 .

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