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, ethical 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 Trustee of the Rare Breed Survival Trust.
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 2015 and haven’t looked back. My role on the farm, besides helping with the general farm work, is running our diversification businesses, including 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, tweed 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 Breeders’ Association and I am Secretary for the Rare Breed Survival Trust Cumbria Support Group. I am also a trustee for the Lakeland Arts Trust. We are both advocates for environmentally sustainable, high animal welfare farming.