How Lord Robert Newborough’s Passion for Organic Farming and Green Innovation Revived Rhug Estate
Discover how Lord Newborough’s organic farm has transformed Rhug Estate into an international green enterprise.
At 55/Redefined, we’re proud to be sponsoring the Great British Entrepreneur Awards in conjunction with Specsavers. We’re spotlighting six fantastic candidates shortlisted for the Unretirement Entrepreneur of the Year Award, who uphold our values of challenging the status quo and disrupting societal norms – and the candidate below is no exception.
From Family Farm to Thriving Organic Enterprise: Meet Lord Robert Newborough and Rhug Estate
Born and raised to farm by his father, Robert Newborough insisted on forging his own path in business when he reached adulthood. It was during his father’s twilight years that he returned to his childhood home to learn from the land once again.
Upon his father’s passing in October 1998, Robert and his team made the decision to turn the estate into an organic farm – a process that would take two years. Since the conversion, Rhug has grown from strength to strength. Building a small retail shop in the early 2000s led to more organic farming in Shropshire and on the coast, and further developments now place Rhug Estate as a fully-fledged farming, retail and wholesale leader, more recently investing in green innovation.
Rhug Estate uses every resource it has, growing its once nine employees to 110, boosting employment in North Wales. Working with the landscape whilst adhering to strict codes of environmental practice, today, Lord Newborough and his team serve numerous restaurants, shops and other businesses across the world.
Michelin Recognition and Organic Farming
Protecting and managing the land properly is of the highest importance to Lord Newborough. The quality of the land feeds into the quality of all end products, from meat to skincare. Planting wildlife corridors to connect woodlands, protecting ground nesting birds and contributing to the conservation of red-listed species is just one example of considered land care taken. Stopping the use of pesticides and introducing herbs such as clovers to encourage grass growth, along with applying stress-free practices to animal rearing has also enabled Rhug to produce quality meat on-site – which has achieved Michelin recognition.
Rhug’s farming enterprise of Ty Mawr raises both salt marsh sheep and Aberdeen Angus cattle, alongside growing grasses such as samphire and sea lavender, which in time flavour the meat they produce. Lord Newborough even farms a herd of Bison, in response to a growing demand for a meat with special health qualities.
A Personal Touch
The Rhug business provides a personal service for all of their customers, with the ability to tend to any need or desire and adapt in response to the direct feedback they receive.
Supplying top restaurants around the world, including international clients from the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong to The Ritz in Abu Dhabi, the estate also works locally, providing a field-to-fork dining experience at the Rhug Estate Bistro. Rhug’s involvement with those in the surrounding towns doesn't end there, with the annual sheep shearing competition growing more popular at the estate every year.
The Alternative Energy Source Advantage
With such a diverse landscape to work with, Lord Newborough looks to utilise green energy wherever possible. As recipients of the Royal Warrant for services to the environment in 2018, quality, health and sustainability are the key pillars in everything the estate stands for – with their sights set on reaching net zero.
From geothermal, solar and hydro to wind turbines on the coast, they now produce enough electricity to supply 8,700 homes. After 22 years of working with the land, they have stored 450 tons of carbon in the ground, and Lord Newborough isn’t stopping there – Rhug is carbon neutral, and they aim to trade their carbon on an annual basis.
Setting Goals for the Future
Despite building a world-renowned business over the last 22 years, Lord Newborough's ambitions continue to grow. His current projects include making Rhug’s skincare brand, Wild Beauty, a truly global name, where all products are made with natural, foraged ingredients from the grounds, as well as opening a camping and caravan area for the public to enjoy in the summer months.
With an aim of securing an environmentally and financially stable future for generations to come, Lord Newborough hopes the brand will continue to flourish. It’s inspiring to see how Rhug Estate’s rich history can meet new and innovative growth for good!
Lord Newborough is just one of the over-50s stepping out and making things happen as a later-life entrepreneur. Read the stories of our other shortlisted candidates.
Start a Specsavers Business Partnership
Back in 1984, Doug and Mary Perkins realised that for professionals to really be part of the business, they had to have a stake in its ownership and profits. So they developed the ground-breaking joint venture partnership (JVP) model. For those entrepreneurs with the drive to make it happen, becoming an audiology partner at Specsavers is a fantastic way to take control of a business while avoiding the many risks of starting up on your own. If you're interested, find out more, and perhaps you could be a future unretirement entrepreneur award winner!
Want to hear more inspiring stories from over-50s who are changing the status quo? Visit our Redefiners hub to hear stories and tales of midlifers who are redefining their later life.