News from Wark Farm October 2021
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Newsletter October 2021
â€˜What will it take to cause a greater shift to sustainable farming?' seems to be an increasingly regular question I'm getting asked at farmers markets and from a range of visitors to the farm.
kIn answering this I find I often have my mouth open to reply before my brain is fully engaged. There is a dichotomy here; for myself I want to answer, well it's just so obvious it will naturally happen â€¦ and then the brain engages and the answer morphs into the complex birds nest of competing ideas, needs and ideologies surrounding food and farming that mean I have to shut my mouth and take some time to start the conversation again. Oftentimes I'd just rather change the subject rather than try to answer!
Time may of course help, but we're talking generational change within the industry probably not much faster than that on it's own. Even then the hold of status quo is intense in the industry. It's a supertanker we are talking about turning here. The longer we travel in an increasingly denuded farm landscape the more normal it becomes and the fewer signal remain that things may be getting worse. My impression of the next generation coming into the industry is a full on mix of hope and frustration.
There are some great things being done in the sustainable farming â€˜niche' and as these become demonstrably effective they are leaking into the mainstream of farming, a form of slow evolutionary change. More peer to peer sharing of these advances will certainly help, I do see advances. At its base though a shift to more sustainable methods of land management very broadly means farming on biological understanding not farming by a technological and mechanical approach. They are differing mindsets and often seem to mix about as well as oil and vinegar.
I'm left wondering what books the next generation of natural history writers will be giving us. I so hope not just plain histories of what nature we used to have. Instead I'm going to look forward to a reading table groaning with case studies from the age of restoration, on the science of species expansion and how to manage it's interaction with human use of the planet and the flow of beautiful poetic writing that living amongst an abundant nature has so often inspired.
I was very stuck a while ago, when reading a number of case studies of pioneers in regenerative farming around the world, by the authors observation that very few of them changed because they had been thinking it was a good idea. They changed because of some shock to their current way of farming. Shock precipitated change not ideology or virtue. The shocks could have been crashing market prices, changes to input prices or availability, crashes in crop yields, etc. Something so serious happened that the viability of the farm business was so threatened and a radical re-appraisal of the model was stimulated - change or get out.
We're had a few shocks over the last year, supply chain shocks from Covid sent some judders through the industry, though perhaps more to consumers than producers. Over the last few weeks supply issues threatened the food chain with abattoirs and processors challenged. Perhaps the most radical shock possibility floating around was the challenge to fertiliser manufacture from rising gas prices. A huge price hike or a sustained supply restriction would have immense implications for most farmers. For now this seems to have passed, with some government intervention.
I'm not sure how â€˜ethical' it is to hope for a systemic shock but my more considered answer to the opening question is that I suspect that to see a large scale shift to more sustainable farming any time soon, we will need to see a paradigm shift in the space that farming functions within. Whether that shock comes externally and unpredictably or whether it's â€˜manufactured' through radical policy change is up for grabs. I have every faith in the farming worlds ability to adapt and respond, they just need clear signals.
The September order form is now open.
On our product range for this month: * There's our usual list of aged Belted Galloway Beef and Hebridean Hogget/Lamb, the full range of fresh cuts * We also have our home cured unsmoked and smoked range of meat cuts back on the menu, as well as gammon boiling joints to make your own hams. * This month we're also having fresh cuts of Iron Age pig available! * We also have a limited number of game venison fillets and medaillons (frozen) * Our famed Wark Farm pies, made with our own hot water pastry recipe and filled to the brim with high quality meat (frozen) * Our festive Pheasant & Apricot pies are back! We have limited stock and since they are frozen, you may want to get a stock in for the festive days. Great for tea, lunch or as an easy bite for when you have guests over! All our beef and lamb meat is cut fresh, which means that it can be frozen at home. It also means that, while we try to accommodate everyone's requests, we cannot guarantee not to run out of certain cuts. We treat orders in order of receipt, meaning that the sooner you get your order in, the more likely it will be that you will get everything you requested for.
Unlike our meat, which is typically sold fresh, our famed pies are sold frozen, ready to be baked at home. Our pies are made from scratch at the farm, including their secret recipe golden crust.ORDER INFO: Ordering deadline: Monday 18th October, noon. Order confirmations are not sent out automatically, but will be emailed to you by latest Wednesday 20th October. COLLECTION/DELIVERY INFO: As we had to delay our open days for a week and cutting will only be done in the course of next week, orders can only be collected at the farm or delivered, but not collected at Banchory farmers market. Orders can be collected at the farm (Sunday 24th October between 11am to 2pm) or can be delivered in central Aberdeen and Aberdeen City and most of Deeside and Donside. Deliveries will be done on Friday 22nd October. Delivery is free of charge for orders above Â£40, otherwise it is Â£5 delivery charge. Please check with us whether we deliver to your area if this is the first time you're ordering from us. PAYMENT INFO: Invoices will be sent out by email at latest Tuesday 26st October with information on how to pay by bank transfer. The updated order form link is below. As ever please get in touch if you have any queries. Best wishes Laurel & SaM