It’s All About Nature
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.
The Importance of Our Wildflower Meadows
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.
The Biological Heritage Survey found our pastures to be particularly rare, containing over 60 species of grasses, herb, flowers and clovers supporting over 30 species of wildlife. In comparison, intensive farming systems producing and feeding silage contain as little as 3 or 4 species of grass and plants and support minimal wildlife.
Since 1930, 97% of England’s traditional wildflower grasslands have disappeared, so we do think we are quite unique! We firmly believe that our low intensity farming system supports nature and our organic heritage meadows.
These pastures keep our rare breed livestock happy and healthy and the result is better tasting meat & milk, with better nutrition and a better environment for the next generation.
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.
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 us. Our 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.
Healthy & Natural Food
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 meat & 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.
In Years Gone By...
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), a little island of history and nature which is a joy to wander round. Our charge is to protect them and pass them on…sadly around us similar features have slowly been taken out as intensive farming has taken hold.
The name Gazegill is mentioned in the Doomsday book and was left here by Viking visitors, it simply means "Goat Valley". Our pasture is witness to old farming methods and these are still clearly visible today. Medieval ridge and furrow and ancient droving tracks that are littered with coins, brooches, buckles and other daily items, some dating from the late Roman period. It is another great aspect of the long family association with our land that these historical features survive still whilst much around us has been lost to the plough.
Sustainable energy plays a big role, 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.
We have taken a mixed livestock farm that was selling everything wholesale to a diversified retail operation. All members of the family are involved and although still young, our children are learning the ropes as it is important to know that Gazegill will be in safe hands in the future. Being around animals our children have a sixth sense when it comes to looking after them, they are after all our extended family, it’s great to see our children grow in such a natural environment.
Putting More into the Community
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.
The Farm plays host to a number or different projects outside of the farm shop and dairy, as an approved farm visit centre it hosts over 250 school and group visits per year which are focused on sustainable agriculture, healthy lifestyle and learning about environment and farming.
The Education Centre is also the governing body for our CIC Care farm, a project that champions day activities for adults with mental health and learning difficulties. The core activity is a growing project that produces herbs and edible flowers, these are sold to sustain the project and all the fresh herbs used in our sausages are grown by the Care Farm.
Please Feel Free to Drop By
Here at Gazegill, the Robinson family have farmed the land for nearly 500 years. Passed from one generation to the next the ethos has always been to farm with nature and leave our historic landscape as given, after all we are only the current baton holders waiting to pass it on to our children. We approach every day with a great saying in mind...
"We do not inherit our time on this planet from our parents, but rather borrow it from our children..."
We are open for visitors and love people to share our little natural oasis and we are always happy to show people around.
Gazegill Organics is a trading name of J Robinson & Son VAT Registration Number 175 597319