3 years ago we quit our jobs and left the city in search of a more sustainable and meaningful life. At first we wanted to disappear into the countryside and become completely self sufficient, leaving as little impact on the world as possible.
But then we came across the idea of Regenerative Farming - producing good food in a way that is not just sustainable but ecologically beneficial.
We decided to become full time farmers and set out to develop a farm that was both economically and ecologically productive. We bought 10 acres of pasture in Wales and got to work building a farm that integrates plants, trees and animals into one system.
We started off by planting around 700 blueberry bushes, made up of 7 different varieties. They take a few years to establish so 2019 will be our first year that we take a crop from them. We decided to plant them on a gentle slope to help them catch and slowly drain water, which is why the rows look all wonky. Instead of keeping the soil underneath them bare, we’ve planted a host of other beneficial plants for soil health and for the bees.
Next we got ourselves some sheep to help us manage the grass and the hedges. They do an excellent job at maintaining the fertility of our soil and our pasture. We started learning how to graze using rotations, which keeps the sheep and the pasture healthy. We also planted over a thousand trees to coppice for firewood, create wildlife habitat, and encourage biodiversity.
Once we had the blueberries, the sheep, and the trees playing nicely together we decided to plant up a cut flower garden to sell bunches locally. Everybody loves flowers, including insects.
We also had a go at growing garlic, lots of garlic. We planted 7,000 cloves by hand and they grew really well. Unfortunately we found out that drying thousands of garlic bulbs in our humid welsh climate is a recipe for disaster. We lost over half our crop to to mould while trying to dry them.
We started keeping a small number of ducks and we loved them so much that we decided to increase our flock size and start selling duck eggs. Seriously, once you start eating duck eggs it’s very difficult to go back to chicken eggs.
The ducks do very well in the Welsh climate (like water off a duck’s back), and they love foraging for insects which provides us excellent pest control in our garden, the blueberry patch and in the pasture where our sheep graze.
Farming keeps us really really busy. The work we’ve done over the last 3 years has nearly broken us several times, but it’s been so rewarding that we just can’t get enough of it. You could say we’ve become a little obsessed with farming.
If you care about where your food and flowers come from and how they might impact the planet, then seek out produce directly from British regenerative farmers - there are a growing number of us!