Fields of Dreams (Otherwise Known as the Post I Couldn’t Think of a Good Title For)

I’m having some issues with my web host at the moment. One of the issues involves pictures not loading properly. If you’re getting broken image links instead of actual photos, refreshing the page sometimes helps them load properly. If that still doesn’t work, they should display just fine if you click to open them in the lightbox viewer. And if you have any recommendations for good web hosts, I’d love to hear ’em. I’m definitely in the market… The problem has been solved. Huzzah for not having to move my site…

Also, this is a long post with lots of pictures. I apologize in advance. Haha!

So, being in a agricultural program means a lot of field trips. Or trips to fields, as the case may be. This was especially true during the last week of the course, when we went on a field trip every single day. Apart from the perennial field crops module in Greece, that module may have been my favorite. It was a great way to reflect on all of the many things we had learned during the year and to see various concepts in practice. I keep a mental list of all the things I want to do on my own farm someday, and you can bet your boots I added a lot to that list during that week.

Stamfrey Farm

Stamfrey Farm is an organic dairy located in West Rounton, North Yorkshire. The dairy was originally run conventionally, but since converting to organic management in 2001, owners Angus and Sue have seen marked improvement in the health of their cows, the quality of their sward (grass) and milk, and the value of their products. In 2003, they decided to diversify with some value-added products, and settled on clotted cream and lowfat yogurt. We got to sample some of both, and boy was it delicious! Seriously, if you are in England, you need to get some. If you’re not in England, you need to go to England and get some.

Ideas I'm Totally Stealing
  • Angus is a big fan of New Zealand-style grazing, which is much like mob grazing. I have been intrigued by this style of pasture management ever since reading about Joel Salatin, who uses it on Polyface Farms in VA. After seeing it in practice and noting the difference in sward health, I’m sold. I’ll definitely be using it on my farm.
  • CLOTTED CREAM. I am making it.

Piercebridge Organics

Piercebridge is an organic farm that produces eggs and meat (beef, pork, lamb, and chicken). They also have a farm shop, where you can enjoy delicious food at their cafe (I recommend the butternut squash soup!) or take home a variety of local and organic produce. Their English Longhorn cattle are listed as a rare breed with the Rare Breed Survival Trust.

Ideas I'm Totally Stealing
  • Since they aren’t really vegetable producers, they partner with other local organic farmers to provide produce for their farm shop. Everybody wins.

Riverford Organics at Home Farm

Riverford Organics is one of the largest CSAs in the UK, delivering around 47,000 boxes of fresh produce each week. We visited their Home Farm facilities, which covers the northern part of the country, and saw their storage and packing facilites. We also got a lengthy tour of their Anaerobic Digester compound, which basically turns manure into electricity. It’s my new favorite thing.

Ideas I'm Totally Stealing
  • I love the idea of running a CSA. Riverford is so efficient that they are able to offer high quality produce for less than you’d pay at the supermarket–sometimes almost half the cost!(I wish I had known about Riverford at the beginning of my stay in Newcastle. I would have signed up for certain!)
  • Anaerobic Digestion. It still has a few kinks to work out of its system, but what new technology doesn’t? A good AD system helps reduce nitrate leaching from manure storage, creates energy from renewable resources, and produces zero waste. I’m sold.

Bill Quay Community Farm

Bill Quay Community Farm (say “Bill Key”) is a small farm smack dab in the middle of Gateshead, Newcastle’s neighbor across the river. All of the livestock on the 25 acre farm is listed on the rare breeds registry, and residents include Bagot goats, Hebridean sheep, Castlemilk Moorland sheep, Jacobs sheep, Tamworth pigs, Large Black pigs, and Scots Grey chickens. The farm has educational programs, walking trails, and a cafe.

Ideas I'm Totally Stealing
  • I definitely want to breed rare breed livestock on my farm. Right now, I’m leaning toward Gloucester cattle; Tamworth and Glouchester Old Spot pigs; Buckeye, Cubalaya, and Langshan chickens; and Clydesdale horses.
  • In addition to being available for field trips and community events, Bill Quay also runs educational programs with East Durham College in which students can earn diplomas in Countryside Skills and Animal Care. I love the idea of partnering with a community college.

Botton Village

Botton is a biodynamic farm in North York Moors National Park. Not only do they produce and sell seeds, value-added dairy products, meat, jams, jellies, and bread, but they are also a residential community for adults with special needs. These residents all develop valuable skills as they work on the farm, and all of the residents we spoke to expressed great love and appreciation for the program.

Ideas I'm Totally Stealing
  • I love love love love love the two-fold mission of Botton Village. It’s not just a place that cares for the earth, it’s also a place that cares for humans in a way that emphasizes their value and celebrates their different abilities. I would love to incorporate some sort of inclusive element into my farming program, such as working with at-risk youth, kids and adults with disabilities, rehabilitating convicts, etc. The earth is worth saving, but so are its people.

BONUS! Stockbridge Technology Centre

We didn’t go visit Stockbridge during our final module, but we did visit during our Greenhouse module. Stockbridge is a research facility where they investigate various plant nutrition, pest control, and growth improvement techniques, usually for greenhouse production. We saw lots of really cool things, but the coolest by far was the LED study. Stockbridge is experimenting with using LEDs that emit light at various wavelengths and tracking the effect on plant growth. Some colors make stems grow better, while other colors make leaves grow better. All the colors do funky things to your camera, which made it really fun to try to get pictures. All of these are SOOC (straight out of camera), so I haven’t adjusted the color or saturation or anything!

If you had a farm, what are some things you’d like to include?

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