East Anglia: Packaging emergency leads to new venture for farmer

An enterprising East Anglian farmer has won new business after stumbling upon a solution to a packaging problem for his glassware business.

Richard Wright, from Loddon, set up organic packaging company Leavs Ltd after he ran out of polystyrene chippings to dispatch with his botanical oil lamps one Christmas.

He was forced to diversify after the family farm was hit by the foot-and-mouth crisis in 2001 and he set up a glassware business.

He said: “About two years ago we were shipping stuff out via eBay and using polystyrene chippings. We ran out one Christmas and couldn’t get any more in. We scraped around on the farm and used a mixture of botanical products.”

Using a mixture of straw and expanded maize from the arable, poultry and cattle farm he was able to improvise and get the glass out safely and on time. He said: “We used that for packaging as an emergency. We never gave it a lot of thought until we were sorting through our feedback on eBay. The feedback we were getting wasn’t for our glassware, people loved the packaging because it was organic. So we decided to see if we could turn it into a business.”

He launched the new company Leavs Ltd in March and he has already won a deal with a natural deodorant company.

He said: “We have created a product which is sustainable and eco-friendly in the way it is produced. Their image is eco-friendly natural products and we are 100pc natural products. We are growing where we can all the products we use. We actually use 100pc of the plants.”

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He said: “We have been using the products ourselves for about 18 months or two years, but there was a lull before we realised we could start a business.”

He runs the business with his wife, Julie, and he said he had other family members involved in the day-to-day running of the farm.

“This ties in very well with the glasswares business. We are constantly developing new products and we can try this out with the glasswares business,” he said.

The company has already sent off some samples to brewer Adnams. “We have built up a portfolio of samples and we have got customers coming through,” he added.

Leavs Ltd was mentioned in the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership Green Economy Pathfinder Manifesto which was presented to the government in early June 2012.