Dodgson Wood is the diversified part of Nibthwaite Grange Farm. We chose that name as the three eco-holiday sites we manage are based in and around Dodgson Wood, which is a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and a place we both love. Nibthwaite Grange Farm has been farmed by John’s family for 6 generations, however, in order for the farm to be future-proof and sustainable, we felt it necessary to develop new micro-businesses to run alongside to support and enhance our farm work. This consists of direct meat sales to private customers and restaurants, selling breeding animals to other farmers, off-grid, eco holidays, wool and Jersey milk soap.
John Atkinson: I have farmed in Nibthwaite my whole life however my farm practice has changed over the years as I became more aware and interested in conservation farming. I am passionate about producing the best quality meat in a natural and sustainable way. In my mind this comes from animals being reared outdoors on permanent pasture providing a varied and wholesome forage. I am a committee member for the Federation of Cumbria Commoners, the Dry Stone Walling Association, Whitebred Shorthorn Cattle Society and the Rare Breed Survival Trust Cumbria Support Group. I am also a member of the Luing Cattle Society and the Castlemilk Moorit Sheep Society.
Maria Benjamin: I am from Scotland and moved to the Lake District in 2010 after studying Fine Art at Goldsmiths College and working in London for 12 years. I have worked as an artist, film maker, film editor and creative producer. I joined my partner on his family farm in 2014 and haven’t looked back. My role on the farm, besides helping with the general farm work, is running three off-grid accommodation sites (owned by the National Trust), product development, marketing and sales. I am always thinking of ways to make the most out of what we have as I love where we live and what we do and want to share that passion in a tangible way. I make soap from our Jersey cow’s milk and we sell raw fleece, knitting wool and wool products from our flock of rare and native British sheep. I am a member of the British Lop Pig Society, Castlemilk Moorit Sheep Society and Teeswater Sheep Society and I am Secretary for the Rare Breed Survival Trust Cumbria Support Group.
We are both advocates for environmentally sustainable, welfare-friendly farming.