Misan Harriman: Congratulations Carole. This is one of many awards and achievements but what is the crowning achievement of your life so far?
Carole Bamford: My goodness that’s a big one! I think my children, because they inspire me every day and so do my grandchildren. They are really the reason I’m here tonight. Forty-two years ago, I became organic because my daughter was in a pram and Anthony [Lord Bamord] was on the farm… I was growing roses and I saw that they had wilted and I thought, ‘What’s happening?’ I realised they were spraying a herbicide on a nearby farm and the toxins had affected the rose bushes. I later went to an agricultural show and sat in an organic tent for two hours and when I came away, I said to Anthony: ‘We need to change our way of farming.’ Everyone thought I was potty and that the farm was going to go downhill but I said: ‘We’ve just got to do it.’ It was just intuitive to me. I just felt it.
MH: I think that’s an important point. You’re saying that, number one this was born from love for your daughter, and wanting her to eat healthy things?
CB: She didn’t understand at the time but I just wanted her to breathe fresh air and I thought if these roses aren’t growing, if these vegetables aren’t growing… It’s really about the soil; the health of the soil. Whether we’re talking about fashion or food, it’s the full cycle. What we grow and how we grow it is who we become – we are what we eat. Same with our clothes. Where do they go? They go into the soil. The soil is all we have.
MH: What do you draw on when things get hard?
CB: Passion. You’ve got to have a passion for what you want and really follow it through. It’s not easy, it can be really hard at times. Some people thought I was a crazy rich man’s wife and it’s really just to carry on and keep going. One thing that really inspires me is India. I went to India in my 20s and got into transcendental meditation there. India is my spiritual home, I go about three or four times a year. You have to look after your mind when you’re troubled… I meditate every morning and do yoga.
MH: There are a lot of people who look up to you and want to take the road less travelled and build a sustainable business. Is there one single piece of advice you would give those people?
CB: Believe in yourself and have a passion. Just believe in what you’re doing, I think that’s the most important thing: passion.
MH: How can consumers do their bit?
CB: Initiatives such as the Butterfly Mark and the Soil Association certification are very important… Be mindful of how you shop, shop with a conscience. Even if you buy an apple, ask where does it come from? You can make the change, it’s about all of us having an influence.
MH: The 2020s are definitely going to be the decade of change. How do you think businesses and governments are rising to the challenge of saving Mother Earth?
CB: I think Greta Thunberg has done a great job. We need to listen to our children and our grandchildren. Greta is out there, she’s made us all listen. I think we’ve got to listen to the young because they know that it is now that we have to make a change. The way we shop, the way we think… be mindful of what you do and be true to what you do. I think we can all make tiny changes in the way we live.