‘The Women Shaping the Future of British Produce’: group portrait by renowned photographer Jenny Lewis released

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Ten prominent business leaders in food and agriculture have come together for an iconic portrait by renowned photographer Jenny Lewis. We commissioned the all-female shot to mark the tenth anniversary of our award-winning Sourced Locally initiative, which brings local produce to shoppers. The portrait celebrates ten inspiring women who are helping to lead the future of food and drink production.

A recent study shows that women account for 30% of the food and drink manufacturing workforce in the UK..In agriculture, 28% of the workforce are female, with more than 25,000 running farms. However, with the number of women enrolling on agricultural courses now overtaking men, this gender imbalance looks set to become a thing of the past.

Minnie Moll, Joint Chief Executive at the East of England Co-op, commented: “Local food is an integral part of a sustainable future and our producers are at the forefront of this. We are proud to have commissioned this portrait, which marks ten fantastic years of our Sourced Locally initiative and some of the incredible women leading the future of British produce. 

“Over the last decade, the East of England Co-op has brought a huge variety of quality local produce to our customers, generating millions of pounds for our economy. The ten women in this photo and hundreds of other fantastic local producers in East Anglia making great-tasting food and drink are the people making this happen.

“Jenny Lewis has won awards for her striking portraits, and notably her work with women, and rightly so. She creates striking images that celebrate everything that makes us who we are, and in this portrait she has captured ten strong and successful women, making waves in their field.”

Each of the ten entrepreneurs are heavily involved in their respective food businesses, from managing farms to leading their own companies and creating new products. Some are part of a family collective, others have set out alone, but each has played a critical role in the success of their business. The group are spread across Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk and between them have racked up an impressive collection of awards, accolades and fans. All have their produce stocked in East of England Co-op food stores as part of the Co-op’s Sourced Locally initiative.

The ten participants, from left to right in the portrait, titled ‘The Future of British Produce’ are:

  • Emily French, Business Partner at Foxes Farm, which grows and supplies pumpkins and Christmas trees 
  • Sue Whitehead, Business Partner and Rebecca Miles, Farm Manager (mother and daughter) at Lane Farm, producer of pork products
  • Louise Jones, Chief Executive Officer at Dan Hull Prepared Food, which sells premium, fresh and frozen, local, handmade food
  • Sarah Savage, Founder and Director at Essence Foods, which produces jams, mustards and chutneys 
  • Fiona Brice, Joint Director at Havensfield Eggs, producers of fully traceable, free range eggs
  • Deborah Coe, Business Partner at Great Tilkey Honey, famed for its 100% natural Essex and Suffolk honey
  • Laura Strathern, Joint Owner at Fairfield Farm Crisps, made from home-grown crisping potatoes at her farm
  • Stephany Hardingham, Founder at Alder Tree Cream Ices, fruit flavoured cream ice created from a family recipe using fruit from the family farm
  • Hannah Marriage, Director at Marriage’s Flour, a family-run miller in Essex now in its 193rd year of producing flour.

Award-winning portrait photographer Jenny Lewis is best known for her revered One Day Young project, which captures mothers within the first 24 hours since having a baby. She has also photographed of a host of well-known female icons, including Dame Maggie Smith, Keira Knightley, Celia Imrie and Naomi Harris. Now based at her studio in Hackney, London, Jenny grew up in Essex and her family has a farm in Suffolk.

The image was taken at Lane Farm in Suffolk, and showcases the ten women in a traditional barn amid the iconic Suffolk landscape. As a specialist in bringing personalities to the forefront, Jenny’s portrait celebrates authenticity and camaraderie, showcasing a group of inspirational women with a passion for great food and business acumen. 

“I am proud to be a regular champion of strong women in my work, so I was keen to be involved in this project. 

“My aim with the portrait was to be as authentic as possible and show the group as they are – some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the East of England. 

“They were a genuine pleasure to photograph, with a real camaraderie between everyone. I’m hopeful that this platform will encourage and inspire a new generation of businesswomen to follow in their footsteps.” 

This year we are celebrating our Sourced Locally Fortnight between 5 and 18 June. Sourced Locally was set up in 2007 to support local producers and encourage shoppers to buy local, seasonal, quality produce. There are now thousands of local products in East of England Co-op food stores, and the scheme has ploughed £57 million back into the region. 

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