Our family have been farming at Gazegill for about 500 years and as current custodians our responsibility to continue farming in a sustainable and nature led way is very important. We have always believed that nature is never wrong and farming organically produces healthier food from happier animals within a sound ecological system. Happy, healthy animals make better food with a traditional flavour. The rare and traditional breeds that we keep are better suited to the organic system and are slowly grown, this ensures a longevity of life based around a natural approach to farming. We love them to bits, they are our extended family.
We have traditional Hay Meadows that are species rich in flowers, herbs and grasses, these promote an abundance of natural habitat for our birds, and other wild animals. We are currently within the higher level environmental stewardship scheme with Natural England and we truly believe that joining this scheme is a natural progression for Gazegill with its biological heritage sites and our beautiful nature. A relaxed approach to farming and with an emphasis on true welfare, we believe that our animals benefit from this diverse natural system. In addition to our nature our ancestors had the foresight to leave in tact many ancient monuments on our farm, from ridge and furrow to Roman roads, our charge is to protect them and pass them on…
To coin a phrase we have always said “its what’s not in it rather than what is”, this we think is key to our commitment to food that is natural in its rearing and happy in its life. Happy, healthy animals make better food.
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Our Organic Ethos
Our Ethos is simple, having been handed 500 years of carefully farmed land our intention is to hand it on to our children with all of its wild flower meadows in as good an order as it came to usOur Ethos, in a phrase we will simply put more in than we take out. Our protected biological heritage sites (wildflower meadows) are an abundance of flowers, grasses and plants that all play key roles in our immediate eco system. Happy bugs and micro organisms give us a healthy and living soil and form the basis for a food chain which supports a wealth of small mammals and birds, rare and otherwise. By farming these meadows in a sensitive manner means we only cut them for hay once everything has gone to seed and all the birds have flown their ground nests. Not only is this better for nature but due to the varied and numerous grass and herb types the hay is a more rounded winter feed for our shorthorn cows and rare breed sheep supplying them essential nutrients and medicinal herbs as well as being a natural diet for ruminants. What little grain feed we use is soya free and uk grown with peas, pulses and lupins as the protein source and of course being organic it is GMO free as well.
During the summer months our cows are given free access to the pastures where they forage for different plant types and even self limit any potential illness, not only is this a natural and healthy way for cows to graze but it also means we see the vet a lot less! To feed our cows this way has a direct effect on the quality of the milk they produce and this is proven to be higher in omega 3 than milk produced on a silage based system but then nature is never wrong and if we are what we eat then we are also what the cow has eaten! No pesticides, no herbicides, no artificial fertilizers and no slurry, just good old-fashioned well-rotted bedding muck like we have done for centuries. It is important for us to use nature to our advantage and work with her, our wild bees and pollinators help us as much as our bugs and earthworms, healthy and living soil which yields from year to year without the need to plough, re-seed or feed with artificial fertilisers and all because we let nature lead us and show us the way. Stop and stand back, watch and mimic and by doing so we can produce healthy and natural food.
Wandering around the farm you can see signs of our archeological heritage too, whether it be our medieval ridge and furrow or our Roman road (an ancient droving track where a plethora of Roman and later coins and other interesting artifacts have been found) sadly around us these features have slowly been taken out as intensive farming has taken hold. A little island of history and nature which is a joy to wander round.
Sustainable energy plays a big role too, our education centre where over 250 schools and groups come every year to learn about sustainable agriculture is heated by an air source heat pump and the water that washes their hands is heated by a solar thermal array. Add to this the 4Kw of solar PV and a 20Kw wind turbine and we are about 75% self-sufficient for our energy needs, planned for the near future is a purifying plant for our spring water and a Hydro electric generator – it is hoped that we can harvest hydrogen by using surplus electricity from the turbine to run our vehicles too.
In a nutshell we believe that organic is best summarised by saying “it’s what is not in it rather than what is” and our constant striving to always put more in than we take out is something we not only apply to farming but also to community, our award-winning CIC Care Farm grows herbs and edible flowers and provides meaningful day activities for adults with mental health illnesses, it is these herbs we use in our sausages – give a little and make a real difference.
We are open for visitors and love people to share our little natural oasis and we are always happy to show people around.