Nick Padwick Ken Hill Estate & Kingsland
Nick Padwick
Nick Padwick is Estate Director at Wild Ken Hill, in north west Norfolk. Nick is growing 40ha of Wildfarmed wheat, mostly as a wheat and bean bi-crop, plus some in an experimental strip system with wheat strips alongside rows of perennial plants.

39 years: 468 months, 2028 weeks. It's a long time to spend doing anything. But farming is a way of life. That isn't cliche, it's fact.


Nick Padwick is a farmer. A farm manager too, has been for 39 years. After (almost) four decades in the business, he still loves it. More than ever really, yes really. Why's that? Well, Nick finally has the keys to the castle, the go-ahead to do things as he wants. To express himself on the field, to run the show, as it were. 


To Nick, this means working with the land, not just working the land. You see, his opinions stand out a little from the crowd, Nick has spent a long time not quite believing in the way things are done. Feeling it's very much how they are done, with little consideration for why they are done. “At large, I don't think farming is right. I haven't throughout my whole career. But now, at the ripe old age of 55, I can actually do something about it." Nick says. 


On his farms Nick is now able to work in a way that aims to better the land, and by extension his crops, himself, his customers, and ultimately, the planet. Imagine the relief of being able to go at it your own way for the first time since you were 16? Imagine, after all those harvests and seasons, finding others who agree. "In 2020 I was invited to a webinar, and this geezer called Andy Cato was talking. There would have been up to 30 farmers on the call, but I wasn't giving anyone else a chance to ask questions. I was completely absorbed in what Andy was doing." 


Andy is our Andy, as in, the person who pioneered the Wildfarmed way of farming. After the event they kept in touch, shared experiences and knowledge, went back and forth on the possibilities (and impossibilities) within what they were trying to do. Pushing the boundaries and sharing knowledge has always been a proponent of Nick's farming. During his time working with the Co-operative, Nick and his wife set up an education project for schools in the East Midlands. In the first year of the project over 1,500 children visited the farm. By 2014 the project had expanded to nine other co-op farms around the UK. More than 100,000 children visited the project. 


A big achievement. 


But meeting Nick, this sort of endeavour feels natural, necessity even. You can feel the energy Nick brings to his days by the way he speaks on a phone. Polite considered responses slip into a stream of consciousness that's as eloquent as a written-down speech with the intensity of a football chant. Never abrasive, just deeply passionate. He oozes purpose. And what is his purpose? It's change. "I've had enough of poisoning the soil. If we could change every day, I would." Nick says. He continues, passionately: "I've been a conventional farmer, if that's the right terminology, for the last 39 years. Throughout my career, I've seen positive operations that benefit wildlife and biodiversity - and I've seen negative work that has wreaked havoc on biodiversity and general food production. I've never been in a situation where I've been able to make positive differences because I've always been in a job where you have to fit in. Thing is, our natural resources and soils are declining to such a frightening level that we've got to get a grip of our knickers and do something about it. I want to improve and regenerate our soils, our habitats, our biodiversity. I've realised that over the last 39 years I've been helping in that destruction. So it's about trying to put things right, through knowledge, technology, experiences. For me, this is all about being inclusive. I'm mad keen on making sure that what we learn, we share with other farmers and land managers. It might look different, smell different, and taste different, but the outcomes will be far better than what we're currently experiencing."