News from Wark Farm September 2020
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I’m sitting outside writing this, on a warm September evening, with the robins singing of the shortening days. As a rarity there is a complete absence of wind and the soft air is speckled with insects. I'm looking across the farm to the Belties, cows and calves, grazing in the wild flower meadows, performing their seasonal task of eating down the summers growth now that flowers have passed and seeds have dropped. Over the top of the cows, a hare cuts a straight line through the bright green of a recently harvested silage field. Another season and another year passing. A reflective scene and a reflective mood.
It’s 15 years at the end of this month since we formally began to farm organically here at Wark, meaning that we both work with the farms natural biological systems to produce our harvest and also are independently audited to see that our systems are robust and accountable to internationally agreed standards of biological farming. Fifteen years has been a reasonable chunk of my working life, it’s the productive lifespan of some of our older cows, it’s 2-3 crop rotations for most of our fields. It’s the time it’s taken for orchids to appear by themselves next to the ‘new’ pond and and for the initial eight Belties to grow to a herd of 100. It’s the time it’s taken for the soil biology to stop juddering after the withdrawal of artificial nitrogen and for weed populations to balance after ceasing the use of herbicides. It’s well over 150 Wark Farm open days where the farm tangibly intersects with your lives.
There’s been plenty of mud, blood and tears over those years, along with a plethora of mistakes and a good selection of ideas tried and abandoned. And it’s long enough to take us close the to edge, physically, mentally and financially more than once. But it is deeply nourishing to look across the farm on a night like this, to feel the pulse of the place. To see biologically active land, going round the seasons and years. To sense biological regeneration rather than exploitation. A substantially self-sustaining system putting food on many tables and alive with wildlife. I had little sense of what all that meant 17 years ago when the idea first occurred to me that farming organically here might be a good idea. A decade and a half later and it’s still very much a work in progress. But I am glad we went with that hunch.
Our September ordering form is now open to book your orders. The link can be found below.Link to order
Our open days this month are a week later than 'normal', normal being a scarce commodity this year. The abattoir we have been using for processing our lambs this year closed for two weeks as a result of an increase in Covid cases in the town (Grantown-on-Spey). This following the abattoir that we normally use ceasing to process lambs at the start of lockdown (Inverurie). We have therefore delayed our dates by a week in hopes that we will have lamb available for cutting at the end of next week. Unfortunately this means we won't have product available for collection at Banchory Farmers market this weekend. We will be open at the farm for collection on Sunday 27th September (11:00 - 2:00) and deliveries will be heading out on Monday 28th. Apologies for the change.
This month we have available the full selection of our Belted Galloway Beef and fingers crossed - though it's still not guaranteed - our normal range of Hebridean lamb. We do though have some good looking wild red deer venison ready to cut for the full range of venison options this month. Bacon is on the list as usual and of course there are pies a plenty.
As ever get in touch if you have any queries and thanks for your ongoing support in these unpredictable times.
Laurel & Sabrina