Written by Alison Park who runs the farm shop at Low Sizergh near Kendal. Which is farmed by her brother Richard along with their families, 50 employees and 70+ local suppliers.
With the COP26 gathering it seems a good time to share what we’re doing on our farm and show that dairy farming is not all about environmental degradation caused by villainous farmers.
A very big wedge has been driven between consumers (our market) and the farming community (their food producers). We consider it vital to make it easier for people to understand how we produce food, why we produce food in the way we do, what we are doing to boost biodiversity, minimise emissions, and move towards the sequestration of carbon.
Humans have always been an integral part of a wider eco-system, sustaining ourselves through natural and seasonal cycles. We have depended on farming for our food for 12,000 years. Here at Sizergh, even our name confirms that Norse people grazed their summer animals on this land. Yet the last half century has seen an increasing detachment from the countryside and the dominance of a food market driven by low cost and convenience. The result has been a huge increase in processed foods and more intensive farming practices to respond to demands that food be cheap and readily available.
Our answer at Low Sizergh Farm is to farm holistically and organically. In practice that means we prioritise the health of the soil that grows the one crop most suited to local conditions – grass. Since grass isn’t consumed by humans, we farm grazing livestock that efficiently convert it to milk.
Regenerative agriculture enables us to reach a stable market for our liquid milk, cheese and ice cream. The organic market recognises animal welfare and environmental stewardship as worthy investments.
With each step we need to take our consumers with us. In our farm shop, Low Sizergh Barn, we try to communicate what we are doing through the products we stock and by offering free access to our farm trail. We’re hoping that we can counter some of the misinformation out there through people seeing how we farm and enjoying some of the food that comes from the land.