Hello to you All,
As you know, if you read these blogs, Bob and I are constantly reassessing and updating you with our progress here at Hexhamshire Organics. The crop plan, seeding plan, chickens, ducks, pigs, polytunnels and compost are often spoken about. However, we also like to think that we are constantly rethinking how we can create a place to live which is not only comfortable (after all this is our home), but also create a place which will survive (and looks amazing) long after we have gone. So, alongside all our endeavours in creating our farm, we are also redesigning our six-plus acres to care for the environment.
We are all listening to the news and the latest research as to how farmers, and also how everyone, should be tackling the issues around climate change, carbon neutral and carbon footprint, soil improvement, water improvement, plastics and nature-friendly agroecological farming. We take due notes on all of these subjects and like to think we are doing ‘our bit’ on our farm and with our business. Here are a few of the things we are doing to improve on these very topical and important issues:-
We grew flowers last season and intend to grow more this year for sale. We do this from both a business point of view but also to improve biodiversity.
Where there is no hedging, we have planted trees and shrubs. The picture is the hedge that was planted last month in our Green Field. The birds are more than welcome to move into our hedges. It is also a great habitat for insects. Again, we do this to improve biodiversity.
We hear all the time about carbon being released into the atmosphere and how this can be countered. The ‘no dig’ approach we use helps to address this problem. Our approach means that the carbon stays in the ground rather than being converted into CO2 by oxidation if the soil had been ploughed or rotovated.
The “no-dig” approach also means the mycorrhizal fungi in the soil structure stays intact in the ground so it is easier for vegetable roots to find more nutrients.
One other benefit of the “no-dig” approach is that we have an ever-increasing worm population – and worms are good for soil aeriation. In a conventional set up ploughing/rotovating many worms can be killed when the ground is cultivated.
Our salad and leaf bags are made from potato starch and are compostable in twelve weeks.
We collect rain water. We use this water for our seedlings. We intend to put guttering along our tunnels to collect even more water for the tunnels themselves.
We only use card board and paper bags for our fruit and vegetable packaging. All can be reused and are recyclable.
We plant complimentary flowers which attract the insects we do not want near the crops. Again this helps improve biodiversity. They also are pleasing on the eye.
We like to have a biodiversity/non-chemical approach to dealing with pests:
- We place ladybird larvae in each of our tunnels. All the green, white and black flies….what green, white and black flies? There are very few as the ladybirds eat them all.
- We often find frogs and toads in the tunnels, if we find one elsewhere, we place them inside the tunnels. They are very good at eating snails and slugs.
- This year we are going to buy nematoades. A nematode is a very small insect, so small that you need a microscope to see them. These will help to control the cabbage root fly, carrot root fly, slugs and snails.
- We also like to think we have a preventative approach to dealing with rabbits. Each polytunnel now has a door screen to prevent those pesky rabbits from eating our crops. We also have chicken wire fences surrounding all our outside growing areas. The insects are still allowed in. The rabbits can go anywhere else on the farm.
We are a business and we want to be a profitable business. Being profitable means we can place money back into the business. This has meant we can buy more tunnels and equipment. The next big thing we want to buy is an electric van to deliver the boxes. We are waiting till the technology advances a little more (and when we have the dosh). At the moment, batteries do not offer long journeys. Fingers crossed it won’t be too long to wait.
Finally. We are Organic. We are certified Organic. We do not know why anyone should place unwanted substances on the foods you are going to eat.
There you have it, a snap shot of our approach. We hope you appreciate our thoughts and find that the result is a much better environment on our farm providing food which tastes fab.
Have a good week,