How one man realised his dream to run his own farm



As the Small Business Saturday campaign prepares to mark its ten-year anniversary on December 3, SME Magazine is profiling some of the 100 small businesses in this year’s SmallBiz100 line-up.  As Michelle Ovens CBE, Director of Small Business Saturday UK, says: “The fantastic small businesses featured in this year’s SmallBiz100 sum up the extraordinary contribution that small firms make to our economy and local areas.”

Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, aka The Black Farmer, introduces us to the company

I am Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, aka The Black Farmer.  I consider myself  ‘a poor boy, done good’.  I was born in Jamaica and then, after my parents came to the UK in the 50s as part of the Windrush generation, was raised in inner city Birmingham.

I left school with no qualifications and undiagnosed dyslexic but ambitious and persistent. After a short and unsuccessful spell in the Parachute Regiment, I trained as a chef and flipped burgers before I talked my way into working in television, rising to become a producer/director for the BBC.  I am credited with bringing many of the top UK celebrity chefs to the small screen including Gordon Ramsay, Antony Worrall-Thompson, Brian Turner and James Martin. In 1994 I founded a food and drink marketing agency in London which went on to run successful marketing campaigns for Loyd Grossman sauces, KETTLE Chips, Plymouth Gin, Cobra Beer and other challenger brands.

However, my dream since I was a young child working on my father’s allotment was to own a farm.  It was the driving force in everything I did and, when I was 40 years old, I finally fulfilled that lifelong ambition and bought a small farm in Devon in 2000.  This was the inspiration behind The Black Farmer brand (a name coined by my Devon neighbours) which I launched back in 2005 with our now famous gluten free sausages.

Tell us more about the company.

Since its launch, The Black Farmer has been seen as one of the UK’s most inclusive and innovative brands of recent times. Purpose driven, the company’s values are affordable premium, with a mission to supply customers with exciting products that bring quality to their lives.

What products do you produce? 

The Black Farmer’s famous gluten free sausages are marketed through all leading supermarkets and online via Ocado.  In the last 18 months we have launched our online Farmshop where we offer a wide range of products from locally sourced meat, bakery, deli and ready meals, to Caribbean specialities, Pause skincare and many unusual gift items.

What do you enjoy the most about being your own boss? 

There are so many things I enjoy about it.  Probably most important to me is being free to act on my own instincts and not being restrained by others. While I’m happy to take others’ views and opinions into consideration, I make the final decision and I will succeed or fail on that basis.  It sounds daunting, but in fact it is liberating.

What advice would you give someone thinking about setting up their own business? 

Setting up your own business requires a clear vision and passion – you will need plenty of passion in order to stay focused and true to your vision and don’t be pushed off course by nay-sayers and doubters, of which you will meet many!

What do you think about Small Business Saturday and how does it help you? 

Small Business Saturday is an excellent initiative as it aims to get people thinking and supporting local small business. I believe anything that can help people to understand the benefits of shopping local in these current times is vitally important. The cost of living and environmental crises we are experiencing are being fuelled in part by our reliance on importing goods that we could source closer to home.

Sum up your business in three words

Inspire, Surprise, Sustain