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Between you, me, and the gatepost (Bridport Times, December 2019)

We write monthly for the magazine Bridport Times. To see this article as originally published, view the pages on Issue.

Written by Ellen Simon

Bhutan, we hear, measures its success in gross national happiness instead of gross national product. Provided we stay above the breadline and can pay the bills, I think we might measure the farm’s success by whether the gates are good. Gates in good order are a joy. A gate should unlatch with one hand and easily swing open with just a light push. It should stay roughly where it is left, neither swinging wide open nor closing onto the person passing through. It should not touch the ground or have space underneath it to allow lambs to find their way through. It should have clear space at head level for the user, with no bramble shoots or sallow whips to catch unwary faces. It should close readily and latch securely when given a gentle nudge in the right direction. It should make a distinctive noise as it latches so that one can be totally sure without going to check that it cannot be opened with a shove from the next passing animal.

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The times they are a-changin’ (Bridport Times, November 2019)

We write monthly for the magazine Bridport Times. To see this article as originally published, view the pages on Issue.

Written by Adam Simon

Leila and I were speaking in the Houses of Parliament recently. Farming organisations are being consulted on the proposed Environment Bill, which is to replace CAP as support for agriculture, and the Landworker’s Alliance invited a few farms to illustrate to MPs, DEFRA and policy makers how we are delivering ‘public goods’ via agroecological farming as well as making a living and producing good food. Jyoti from Fivepenny Farm brought a feast using only local organic food for them to share as they listened. Many came to understand the issues, others came just for food but were drawn in by the ideas. Our presentation was mainly about what we are doing well and are proud of, however planning what we would say made us think again about why we are doing what we do, how we got here and where we might go next.

Continue reading “The times they are a-changin’ (Bridport Times, November 2019)”
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An Apple a Day (Bridport Times, October 2019)

We write monthly for the magazine Bridport Times. To see this article as originally published, view the pages on Issue.

Written by Ellen Simon

When we first came here in 1960, my father planted trees into a windswept landscape. He planted them to protect the gardens from wind and salt spray. In the places which would in the future be sheltered he then put apple trees. As the years went by, they became productive and, for as long as I can remember, we have had as many apples as we can eat from the end of July through to at least February.

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Shades of Green (Bridport Times, September 2019)

We write monthly for the magazine Bridport Times. To see this article as originally published, view the pages on Issue.

Written by Ellen Simon

As my eyes rest from work they fall on the fields and hedges, and what is within them and around them. Sometimes this is without attention and I see not the things which are there but the patterns they form in the colours of the season. We are in September which, to me, is part of the dark green phase of the year. For now, green is ubiquitous. Green is the colour of life and growth. It is the domain of the Green Man and it defines England’s pleasant land. Soon the green will start to depart and in preparation for that is becoming muted.

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Talking ’til the cows come home (Bridport Times, August 2019)

We write monthly for the magazine Bridport Times. To see this article as originally published, view the pages on Issue.

Written by Leila Simon

One of the things we feel strongly about is showing how we farm and why we believe in farming the way we do. We want people to understand how their food is produced. We want them to feel happy about it, and to use their buying power to encourage methods they approve of. It’s been said we actually get three votes a day on how the world around us looks and works: they’re called breakfast, lunch and dinner!

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The Cutting Edge (Bridport Times, July 2019)

We write monthly for the magazine Bridport Times. To see this article as originally published, view the pages on Issue.

Written by Ben Scriven

Organic farms are sometimes seen as trying to hold back the inexorable march of progress. People may perceive them as, at best, romantic traditionalism and, at worst, luddites clinging to obsolete practices. However, as society has grown more aware of some of the consequences of industrial agriculture, many of the traditional practices that were lovingly sustained by organic pioneers are being rediscovered by agriculture as a whole. Timeless lessons are being looked at anew and used to address issues of water pollution, food security, nutrition, soil degradation and erosion, flooding and nature conservation.

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Woolly jumpers for woolly grazers (Bridport Times, June 2019)

We write monthly for the magazine Bridport Times. To see this article as originally published, view the pages on Issue.

Written by Leila Simon

Sheep grow wool. It is perhaps the feature which defines them most for people who are not part of the farming world. We need to shear them every year, taking off their wool and leaving them cool and comfortable for the summer, and making flystrike much less likely. Wool is also a valuable product: once vital to the English economy it was eclipsed first by cotton and then by artificial fibres. More recently, society is beginning to see its value again, using it not only as an eco-friendly alternative to polyester and nylon clothing, to start reducing the pollution of the oceans, but also as a replacement for glass fibre and plastic bubble-wrap. It is used in a wide variety of forms from building insulation to packaging: we send our meat boxes out packed in wool and we have our own wool spun as knitting yarn (see Bridport Times September 2018).

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The Spice of Life (Bridport Times, May 2019)

We write monthly for the magazine Bridport Times. To see this article as originally published, view the pages on Issue.

Written by Ellen Simon

When I was a child, the only other farm in the village changed from being a mixed farm to an entirely arable farm. I don’t recall exactly when we stopped seeing the cows walking past the house for milking morning and evening and stopped seeing the milk-churns every day waiting on the solid stand of railway sleepers for collection by the milk lorry. Looking back, I can make an intelligent guess about it: I think it very likely that the farmer’s choice to stop dairying tied up with that collection of milk.

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Beginnings (Bridport Times, April 2019)

We write monthly for the magazine Bridport Times. To see this article as originally published, view the pages on Issue.

Written by Ellen Simon

Our cows’ main job is to be mothers, and they are very good at it. We can recognise the start of each cow’s mothering by hearing her talk to her young one. She will start when she is beginning labour and uses her special mother’s voice only for the next day or two. As human beings we raise the pitch of our voice when we speak to our babies. Cows lower theirs, making a very particular sound, one we never hear at any other time. If we hear the characteristic quiet, brief lowing as we go out in a darkening evening to check the cattle, we know for certain that there will be a calf newly dropped or one about to appear. It’s a mother calling for her little one.

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The Seeds We Sow (Bridport Times, March 2019)

We write monthly for the magazine Bridport Times. To see this article as originally published, view the pages on Issue.

Written by Rosie Gilchrist

Without seeds a vegetable garden has few plants and without plants there are no vegetables to eat, and that would be a very sad thing. Choosing seeds, sowing and nurturing them feels like the foundation of a vegetable garden. There are some vegetables such as tubers and cuttings that we propagate by other means but certainly most vegetables are annuals, grown from seed every year. With equal certainty, seed propagation is one of my favourite jobs around the market garden.

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