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Dodgson Wood is a family owned business and 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 and Whitebred Shorthorn Cattle Society. I am also a member of the Luing Cattle Society and the Castlemilk Moorit Sheep Society and I am Chair of the Rare Breed Survival Trust Cumbria Support Group.

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 John 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 our accommodation sites, 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, high animal welfare farming.