October 26, 2023
Recently, we visited FarmEd along with Rural Advisor and some farmers who have taken part in our Farm Resilience Programme in Wales to learn more about regenerative farming.
FarmEd, based in West Oxfordshire, is a 107 acre demonstration farm that was founded in 2013 by Ian and Celene Wilkinson. Over the past ten years, they have worked to take the farm from a conventional livestock farm to being a model of regenerative farming. The team at FarmEd utilises practices such as mob grazing, crop rotation, minimum tilling and using no artificial sprays or fertilisers to demonstrate the possibilities of farming with nature.
With a group of beef and sheep farmers, there was a particular interest in mob grazing and the impact it can have on healthier more nutrient-dense soil and stronger crops.
To the north of the farm, eight 1-acre plots are rotated each year with sainfoin, herbal ley, barley, heritage wheat, wild bird seed and various cover crops, which helps the soil to become more nutrient-dense and capable of storing increasing amounts of nitrogen and carbon.
Interestingly, they can evaluate the health of the soil by digging up a small patch and counting the number of earthworms – the more there are, the healthier the soil. This experiment operates alongside a control plot, where they continue to implement intensive farming practices and artificial fertilisers to measure the benefits of low input crop rotation.
Community also plays an important part in FarmEd. A portion of the farm is used as a kitchen garden, at which many of the locals volunteer to grow fruit and veg, which is then sold back to the FarmEd café or in boxes to the community.
By taking part in our Farm Resilience Programme, farmers get unique opportunities like this to share knowledge, learn about practical ways to implement change and openly discuss both their challenges and successes.
The Royal Countryside Fund offers family farms access to immediate, local and practical support and a path to a sustainable future. Our free programmes are recruiting now.
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