Last week we installed 4 new colonies into their new home on the wonderful regenerative farm - The Slow Farming Company in Castle Cary. Regenerative agriculture is described by RI as farming that not only “does no harm” to the land but actually improves it, using technologies that regenerate and revitalise the soil and the environment. We support this method of farming as it's extremely beneficial to not only the land and our health, but for our incredible pollinators who depend on the healthy management of our land to survive and thrive. We're certain our new bees will love the 180 acres of organic conversion, 40 acres of which are herbal leys, 12 acres bumblebee mix, with the rest being red clover, vetch and grass mixes.
The wonderful Camilla from the Slow Farming Co has written a piece for us to introduce you to them and the farm:
Who are we and why are we calling ourselves slow – something rarely considered a good thing in this day and age? We’re called the Slow Farming Company because it reflects both our farming style and the natural methods we use to produce our beef and hens’ eggs. You could summarise it by saying we’ve recognised Mother Nature knows best, and we’re constantly striving to work in harmony with her. Our family have been farming just outside Castle Cary in Somerset for five generations, and it is very much a family business, with generations four, five and six (still in training) currently living on the farm.
Our planet has survived millions of years without the use of chemical fertilisers, herbicides, pesticides and insecticides, not to mention the heavy machinery required to administer them and the field operations associated with them. Mechanisation and chemical inputs do increase yield, but is the quality as good? A landmark study carried out by the University of Texas in 2004 found ‘reliable declines’ in the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C in food over the past half century.
The crux of the matter is that without good soil we have nothing. To help us get good soil we need a diverse mixture of grasses, herbs and root crops to give us ground cover 365 days of the year. We need to let their root structure develop undisturbed so it can grow deep into the ground. By doing this water is retained in the soil, and doesn’t run off downstream taking the nutrients with it. It also means we rarely see the vet on the farm (accidents notwithstanding) and we don’t use chemicals to kill animal parasites or weeds. Rearing our animals this way takes longer, but they have a far more varied diet, offering health benefits both for them and those that eat the meat, or eggs, they produce.
In order to maintain this biodiversity we need pollinators, lots of pollinators, and that’s where the bees come in. We’re hugely excited to have Black Bee Honey hives on the farm, both because of how they can help us, but also to hopefully go some way to help mitigate the huge bee population losses over the last half-a-century. I’m not going to lie – there’s also a piece of toast here very much looking forward to having some home grown honey!
To learn more about us and our story, do visit our website www.slowfarming.co.uk