Increasing farm income doesn’t have to involve more acres. Is it possible to employ 20 people on a 128 acre farm? Could you build your herd on someone else’s land and get paid for it? Have you thought of care farming? Come and listen to those who are getting more out of the assets on their farms.
Chair: Charlotte Hollins (Fordhall Farm)
Charlotte and her brother Ben grew up on the 128 acre Fordhall Farm, where their father farmed the land as a tenant in tune with “Mother Nature”, avoided all artificial inputs and pioneered the production of live yoghurt. He established a Country Club, including a restaurant, to invite people onto the farm and to pay for the research that he was undertaking. In the late 1990s, the owners wanted to sell the farm to Muller Dairy UK and so began a long battle, led by Charlotte and Ben, to purchase thefarm. This was achieved through mobilising the interest of 8,000 people to establish the Fordhall Community Farm Initiative. Ben and Charlotte now run the farm, restaurant, bakery and butchery and employ 20 people plus another 20 seasonal workers in an outside catering business.
Tom Chapman (Livestock Farmer and Estate Manager)
Tom is involved in the management of a large estate in Hertfordshire which has enterprises including suckler cows, arable crops, timber production, residential & industrial lettings, the extraction & selling of borehole water and solar electricity generation. Following his Nuffield Scholarship, Tom started experimenting with different forage crops, seeking to improve soil fertility and reduce costs by bringing cattle back into the arable rotation. He is constantly looking at ways in which stockmen and arable farmers can work together on other landholdings, to their mutual benefit, and is keen to involve outside investors too, to provide seed capital for this integration. He also has a small herd of Hereford beef animals and recently bought three jersey in-calf heifers which are the nucleus of his latest venture into grass-fed raw milk production and retailing.
Julie White and Nick Platt (Growing Rural Enterprise)
Julie and Nick have been involved in rural business development for 15 Years and set up Growing Rural Enterprise to help rural businesses to diversify and look at new ways of working. They became very interested in Care Farming after helping several farms to develop new care farming enterprises alongside their existing farming businesses. They developed a care farming model, The WELLIES Project, for people recovering from mental ill health and have run over 30 WELLIES Programmes over the last 5 years, offering over 700 people the chance to take part in a 10 week WELLIES programme. The programme has been extended to provide opportunities for people getting ready to return to work (WELLIES 4 Work) and family learning for troubled families (WELLIES Farm Friday). They currently have some funding from The Princes Countryside Fund and have 20 mentoring sessions available free of charge to farmers exploring care farming.
Julian Rose (Hardwick Estate)
Julian is an organic farmer in South Oxfordshire and with Jadwiga Lopata a co-founder of The Coalition to Protect the Polish Countryside – ICPPC (2000). They joined forces out of a common desire to help turn around the precarious fate of one and a half million Polish small farmers finding themselves face to face with an unprecedented dual threat: the corporatisation of the mixed family farm and European Union ‘death by technocracy’.
Recordings (Youtube videos)
Fordhall Farm (unable to make it on the day)