After four generations of conventional farming, Kingsclere Estates in Hampshire is mixing things up and heading in a bold new direction.
For the last decade, Kingsclere’s managing director, Tim May, has been busy regenerating the estate’s soil, increasing biodiversity and adopting a renewed approach to stewardship of the land to secure full Organic status for the crops, dairy and eggs produced on the estate.
But Tim wanted help clarifying the estate’s reinvigorated purpose, vision and messaging to get both the local community and wider sustainable food and farming sector to understand the abundant opportunities at Kingsclere – and be inspired to build on the idea in their own ways.
“In nature, there is no concept of waste. Everything is food for something else.” – Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Tim’s ‘circular community’ vision is to invite like-minded farmers, food and drink producers, and sustainable enterprises onto the estate to not only make the most of its abundant resources, but also create an innovative ‘closed loop’ system whereby these businesses can benefit from each other’s raw ingredients, waste or by-products – a growing community that feeds itself.
We started with a deep dive brand narrative and messaging project to unpack Tim’s vision, the different audiences, and key messages to share with the world, to help attract likeminded people and businesses to join him.
The website content included everything from distilling hours of fascinating conversation into a pithy ‘Our Story’ page, to digging deep ourselves to research and write all the content for the Ethos section – including sections on Regenerative Agriculture, Biodiversity (in a farming context), Soil Science and Circular Community.
But how to spread the word about the opportunities for people to get involved? So many people have great sustainable business ideas, but no access to land to bring it to life… The vital next step was connecting the two.
So we developed a communications strategy to help get the message out there – from social media content and tactics, to national press, to targeted sector communications.
To focus attention and efforts, we came up with the idea of a one-month ‘applications season’ for interested businesses – a kind of “Dragon’s Den for farmers” as some called it – which we named (and branded as) Pitch Up!
Unpacking all the logistics of how the scheme would work, we wrote web copy, application guidelines, press releases and created the online application form.
We also worked with talented photographers, filmmakers, designers and journalists in our talent pool to create a set of eye-catching assets to launch Pitch Up! in November 2021.
The inaugural Pitch Up! season attracted a great mix of applications, with an impressive cohort of sustainable farming, food, drink, cosmetic and lifestyle business ideas.
Our supporting communications campaign also saw a big uplift in interest in the Kingsclere vision – from social media engagement (including a 750% increase in Kingsclere’s Instagram followers) to press coverage (including an interview with Tim on Radio 4’s On Your Farm) and interest from other estate owners considering a similar approach.
We can’t wait to see what Pitch Up! 2022 brings…
We also got so fired up about what we learned working on the Kingsclere Estates project, that Helen wrote an in-depth editorial feature for issue 8 of our Strike magazine, all about fixing our broken food and farming systems (including an interview with Tim, amongst several other inspiring folk).
All photographs by Matt Austin
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