crouchley hall farm

  • are we organic ?

    We get asked this question quite a lot and the simple answer is : No !

    But as always there's rather more to it than a simple answer.

    Organic certification is neither easy nor cheap to achieve, so all credit to the people who have it. However, in my opinion, that does mean it's a standard out of the reach of most smallholders.

    Plus, organic systems rely on you having a lot more land available than most smallholders have access to, so that you can (for example) wean lambs onto land that hasn't been grazed by sheep for 12 months or more. Under the organic system the land is, quite rightly, allowed periods of rest and regeneration - it just isn't an option for everyone.

    There are also restrictions on the chemicals you can apply and the medicines you can administer but sometimes there's no realistic alternative. I have tried for the past 15 years to get rid of a patch of thistles that were ruining the grazing in one of our fields. in 2011 as a last resort I had the field sprayed. No more thistles. Grazing much improved. Result. Similarly we used to have sheep get pneumonia every winter until we started vaccinating them against it annually. No more pneumonia. Happy sheep.

    That doesn't mean that we go mad with chemicals though. What I'm saying is that for us there's a happy medium. We never lose sight of our original goal to produce food for ourselves. So we use the chemicals we HAVE to use in the interests of animal welfare but no more. We worm sheep when it's needed but not as a matter of course. Firstly why would we regularly pour poison into something we want to eat and secondly that sort of wholesale regime can lead to the local parasites developing immunity to the wormer. Which becomes a whole different problem.

    It's all about finding the balance that works for us and our livestock.

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