We are first generation farmers. We started farming here as contract farmers on 30 acres of organic land on the Hatherop Estate in Gloucestershire. The estate was then owned by the late Sir Thomas Bazley who was an organic enthusiast and clearly ahead of his time! We were farming free-range pigs and although the sows were kept free-range, their offspring (the meat generation) were moved to another farm and to be reared indoors. This is not what we wanted for the pigs so we decided to buy 2 sows a week from the herd to have as our own.
When we took on the tenancy of the whole farm is 2000, we converted all the land to organic, and we now have 45 organic sows with all progeny spending their entire lives outdoors, able to dig and root and graze. This is more like it!
The estate is now owned by the Ernest Cook Trust, an educational charity and we see this as a key link to encouraging wider access to the land that produces our food.
Currently, we are converting the pig herd to a native breed, the British Saddleback, and we aim to feed them more sustainably with grazing of diverse herbal leys grown on the farm.
We are certified by the Soil Association and assured by RSPCA Freedom Foods.
Our land is in a 10 year-higher level environmental scheme which particularly encouraged birds and other pollinators.
Our Wild Flower Meadows and Pollen & Nectar field margins are particularly successful, and the long flowering season is enjoyed by our neighbors and others who regularly walk the footpaths on the farms.
Our pigs currently graze (and mostly dig!) the second year of our fertility-building clover leys, they are outside all year round and when the clover growth slows as the weather changes, we feed it as silage which we make each year in May. They just love it!
We are changing our herd over to a native breed of pig, the British Saddleback which we are certain will make good use of the crops that we grow here. We plan to graze them in meadow-type paddocks on species-rich herbal leys.