We collaborate with a UK wide network of farmers who are committed to moving towards sustainable food production.
Sustainable future on Fir Farm
We always strive towards sustainability at Fir Farm and this includes a commitment to reducing our fossil fuel usage. We generate our own energy as much as possible, using solar, biomass and ground source heating, and collect and conserve water. A ground source heat pump is used to heat many of our buildings, while Rectory Farm itself is run on solar energy. Our goal is to become fully renewable in the long-term. We recycle as much as possible, plastic is sent to Solway plastics and metal waste to Gilder’s Metal Recycling. Garden waste is composted and used on the land.
Beyond the farm
We are passionate about what we do and are keen to work with others to share knowledge and help make our food system more sustainable. In collaboration with the Sustainable Food Trust we have initiated and maintain our own benchmarking system which measures a range of sustainability metrics including soil, water and biodiversity.
At present, most farmers and land managers participate in multiple and overlapping sustainability assessment schemes, required to satisfy several different stakeholders including government, certification bodies and food companies. It has been estimated that worldwide there are more than 100 different on-farm sustainability assessment tools in existence, and consequently, food producers are subjected to unnecessary expenses and time-consuming bureaucracy in meeting these compliance requirements.
Since the group started in 2016, we have conducted and published research, including a gap analysis and pilot studies. We have now been testing our framework on farm and the results will soon be publicly available. We have been working with the Secretary of State and his team by sharing our research and thinking around these sustainability metrics.
The Rt. Hon. Michael Gove, MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs attended a conference at Fir Farm in April 2018 where he said the group’s work had, “been invaluable in setting out how to develop metrics which can be used to reward farmers not just for improving soil health and increasing biodiversity but also building human and social capital and strike an important balance. These kinds of high quality contributions to our consultation will help our policy to evolve.”
to read more about the metrics project:
Meetings and Events
We frequently host meetings at our farm in order to encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing. The Sustainable Food Trust conference on the Role of Livestock in Future Farming Systems in 2017, featuring Joel Salatin, brought together a wide range of farmers from across the UK interested in learning how to implement sustainable practices on their farms. The event was attended by HRH the Prince of Wales.
In 2018, the Future of UK Farming Conference
was attended by over 300 people and featured keynote speeches from the The Rt. Hon. Michael Gove, MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
and NFU President Minette Batters, along with expert panels exploring issues including soil health, relocalising food systems, measuring sustainability and the importance of local slaughter. We had some fantastic speakers, including Dieter Helm from the Natural Capital Committee, Andrew Sells from Natural England, Darina Allen from Ballymaloe Cookery School, soil expert Joel Williams, mob grazing experts Rob Havard and Joel Salatin, and many more.
to read more about the Future of UK Farming conference:
to view the films of the conference sessions:
We encourage people to visit and tour the farm.