Farm Diversification has become an important part of the farm business. Maria manages the diversification side of the business which includes four accommodation sites (Dodgson Wood), three of the sites are owned by the National Trust and there is a small barn conversation on the farm. Shear Delight is their wool brand, The Soap Dairy is a soap and skincare business and they sell their meat to private customers, to young local butcher (Crakeside Meats), occasionally to renowned restaurant to The Old Stamp House and regularly to award winning ethical co-operative in Jersey (Scoop). They have also just stared a new business: Lake District Tweed. They are launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to create their first tweeds. You can support their project here.
For the farm to thrive and not be reliant on farm subsidies, John and Maria felt it was important to put their energy into growing relevant small businesses that enhance the work they do on the farm. They see it as going ‘back to the future’. Small family mixed farms were the norm, and it is only in more recent years that farming has specialised and intensified to its detriment. Monocultures can look impressive but they can be fragile. Imitating the diversity and complexity of the ecosystem in a farm or any business system, can create a more resilient culture. They have certainly found that in their thriving business strands. They also find it more interesting to work in a more diverse and creative way.
John and Maria have been asked to talk at a number of events and in print about their way of working as an example of how other farms might look at improving their business incomes. You can see these examples from the past few years on their Press page.