Sustainable is not enough
Amelia and Jason Greenway are taking a regenerative approach on Springwater Farm, believing it’s what’s needed to secure the future of British farmland.
“We’re farming as simply as possible, going back to the old days in our approach and following regenerative farming principles,” says Amelia. “I don’t believe simply being sustainable is enough.
“I’ve been surprised and reassured how forgiving the ground is and how well it’s ‘healed’ since we started farming here. It’s showing us it’s not too late to change and we can regenerate the land if we treat it well.”
Renting both private and National Trust land, Amelia and Jason are running a mixed farm of Highland cattle and Mangalitsa pigs south of Cullompton, the breeds chosen specifically to suit their heavy clay soil.
“The Highlands are smaller and lighter than other breeds so there’s less risk of poaching,” says Amelia. “They are 100% pasture fed and do well on the grass.
“During the winter they are only fed hay as we choose to take two cuts later in the season rather than making silage and don’t feed any additional concentrate.”
The Mangalitsa pigs are also fed predominantly on pasture, left to roam freely on 100 acres of wetland, conditions in which they thrive.
Related to the wild boar, Mangalitsas don’t need to be housed in winter, keeping weight on well in the colder months, and although arks are provided, they often farrow in the wetland rushes and hedgerows.
Amelia and Jason are working closely with the National Trust to measure the impact of their farming practices, particularly keen to increase the farm’s biodiversity.
“One change we’ve seen is by grazing a small number of our Highland cattle at the right time of year in our woodland, there’s been a large increase in birds and insects, particularly the pearl-bordered fritillary.”
Amelia and Jason are proud of the belief shown in them by the National Trust as the youngest and first new entrants to secure a farm tenancy and are set to increase their acreage with the organisation in the coming months.
“Our plans include running workshops on the farm to show people what habitats can be created by using natural materials and farming in the way we do. The National Trust is very supportive and on this journey with us.”
The meat produced on Springwater farm is sold locally to restaurants and through both local and national meat box deliveries.