Business Models

Farm walk: Growing Well and Low Sizergh Farm

Hosted by Growing Well and Low Sizergh Farm

Growing Well Kendal and Low Sizergh Farm are both based from the Sizergh Estate in Kendal.

Growing Well Kendal is a mental health charity, training centre and the biggest producer of organic vegetables in Cumbria. Between Monday and Thursday every week Growing Well open their doors to members of the community who have been referred via their GP due to their mental health to learn how to grow, sew, hoe and much more to provide veg boxes for the local community ‘crop share’ with a friendly team of volunteers at hand. The lead growers at the site will be able to walk you around the 8-year crop rotation on site and talk you through why organic practices are so important to them and the amazing progress they have made in the past few years.

Low Sizergh Farm is a working farm still run by three generations of the family. Alison can be found running the farm shop, gift gallery and café, whilst her brother Richard (who will be leading the tour) runs the farm with his son Matthew.  John jokes that he’s now the farm boy sent to run all the errands and Marjorie spends as much time as possible painting in her shed. More than 50 local people are employed with Paul Seward working on the farm for nearly 30 years. They do everything with the future in mind, looking after the soil, the landscape and wildlife whilst being part of a vibrant rural economy. Their main crop is the grass that the cows eat all year round which helps them produce milk that they sell in the shop vending machine, the organic milk suppliers cooperative OMSCO and a local cheese and ice cream maker.

A point of interest would be how the farm started out as organic, changed to non-organic practices then back to organic for an array of reasons you’ll be able to discover on the tour.

You will need to book places on this walk separately. More information will be sent to all ticket-holders. There is additional information about Low Sizergh Farm below.

Low Sizergh Farm is a working farm still run by three generations of the Park family. They do everything with the future in mind, looking after the soil, the landscape and wildlife whilst being part of a vibrant rural economy.

Milk is sold through a vending machine outside the farm shop, the organic milk suppliers cooperative OMSCO and to a local cheese and ice cream maker.

Cows Youngstock:  168 Holstein x Swedish Red x Montbeliarde 109 Young
stock, cross breeding for 20 years with a strong emphasis on healthy cows and milk from forage.

Autumn block calved over 12 weeks

Grassland management:

All grazing is rotational, dairy cow platform split into 33 paddocks 1.45 HA 12-hour breaks, YS moved daily fields splitusing electric fences, front and back, with mobile water troughs. Sheep moved weekly.

Dry cows are mob grazed over parkland and permanent pasture.

Re seeding cow grazing with simple herbal ley ryegrass white & red clover chicory & plantain. Silage ryegrass red clover chicory and plantain. still experimenting to find the best mix, 4 cuts of silage and round bales from surplus grass on grazing area.

Arable:  Spring barley and peas for whole crop on a 4-year rotation over the silage area

Conservation work:

  • Traditional hedge management
  • Re-planting of orchards with local varieties of apple, damson, plum
  • Creation of pond
  • Fencing off less useful grassland for wildlife habitat farm trail
  • HLS scheme ends Jan 22 considering the options

A point of interest would be how the farm started out as organic, changed to non-organic practices then back to organic after trainings in Holistic management and farm scale permaculture see how these practices have been incorporated in the farms management on the tour.



Farm walk: Working with farmers to balance environmental priorities and a profitable farm business

Hosted by the Ribble Rivers Trust

The Ribble Rivers Trust have worked with many Ribble Catchment farmers over the past decade. During the years we have been asked many questions, one of the most popular being how can I deliver environmental benefits whilst still having profitable business? This is what we are working on with all of our farmers. The Ribble Rivers Trust would like to invite you to site visit at one of the farms we have worked with for many years – Laund Farm, near Chipping, in the Forest of Bowland. Here we will discuss how we have worked with the farm, what environmental management we have recommended and how we have worked with the farmer to develop a sustainable farm business whilst also achieving environmental gains. We will discuss:
– Introduce the site, the aims of the farm and what the farmers aims were from the initial visit
– What was discovered from the pinpoint
– What funding was available
– What has been achieved
– What has been developed/ changed over time to both have environmental and farm business gains

You will need to book places on this walk separately. More information will be sent to all ticket-holders.

Organic farming: Building resilience

Hosted by the Soil Association Certification

Organic Farming is a well-established model of sustainable production, however a transitioning agricultural policy landscape, a changing climate and growing sustainable food and drink markets are presenting new opportunities and challenges for organic farmers. This session outlines emerging trends and explores how farm businesses are adapting to build environmental and financial resilience in a time of change.

Drawing on robust organic market trend data, and featuring speakers from Northern organic farm businesses, and agricultural policy experts, this session offers valuable insight into the performance of, and outlook for, the Northern organic farming sector and will explore how organic offers a valuable production model for building future farm resilience.

The session will include:
– An organic market update: Beth Kelsey – Business Development Manager (Farming), Soil Association Certification
– A chaired panel discussion with James Robinson (Organic dairy farmer, Strickley Farm) & Bob Paton (Organic Market Gardener; Hexhamshire Organics) providing first-hand practical insight into environmental & financial resilience on farm. Chair: Mark Palmer – Northern-based Inspector & Agricultural lead, Soil Association Certification
– Policy/payments update – public good delivery, agricultural transition. Adrian Steele – Organic Sector Development Advisor, Soil Association

Speakers/hosts include:

 Adrian Steele – Adrian is Organic Sector Development Advisor (Soil Association) and has been involved with the organic sector for many years as a farmer, and has been instrumental in creating and developing marketing initiatives in the livestock, seeds and cereals sectors, in addition to supporting organic representation within the agricultural policy transition.

Mark Palmer – Mark is Northern based inspector & Agricultural lead (Soil Association Certification) and has built his lifelong career in the sustainable food and farming sector, with experience managing multiple farms and being an organic farm consultant. With strong expertise in organic farming, Mark is now a senior inspector for Soil Association Certification, supporting organic businesses across the supply chain from farm to fork.

James Robinson – James is an organic dairy farmer at Strickley Farm, Cumbria. He is a 5th generation farmer, managing an organic dairy farm nestled between the lake district and the Yorkshire dales – home to a milking herd of 120 pedigree shorthorns. James is involved with the Nature Friendly Farming Network and believes that nature plays a key role in the decision-making on farm and ensures that everything possible is done to enhance the biodiversity of all habitats.

Bob Paton – Bob is an organic market gardener; Hexhamshire Organics, Northumberland. Bob and his wife Ann run a well-established 6 acre organic market garden, delivering fresh local organic produce to their surrounding community. They produce organic fruit, vegetables, rare breed pork and juice from their orchard. Hexhamshire believe in having a strong relationship with their customers, and update a detailed blog post of the farm’s activity, every single week.

Beth Kelsey – Beth is Business Development Manager (Farming); Soil Association Certification. Beth grew up on her family farm in Devon and has been immersed in the business since a young age. She has worked within organic certification for 6 years, supporting farmers through their certification, and her role focuses on showcasing the benefits of organic farming, strengthening supply chains and encouraging knowledge sharing.

Sophie Kirk – Sophie is Senior Business Development Manager (Agri-food & farming); Soil Association Certification. She has been working in certification for three years now, responsible for the account management and supply-chain development of our agri-food clients, and supporting the growth of the organic farming sector. Prior to this, she spent six years working in local food policy, focusing on the development of short supply chains within Bath & North East Somerset council.

Food systems change through public procurement: Scottish experiences

Hosted by the Soil Association

There is an urgent need to transform our food systems, and public procurement can be a crucial tool.

Every year, the public sector in Scotland spends almost £150 million on food and drink. Channelling public money back into local communities via local farmers and food producers can provide a multitude of benefits, not to mention improve the quality of the food on school children’s plates.

Food for Life Scotland is working hard to drive this change in Scottish schools by connecting farmers, producers, wholesalers and local authorities to provide healthy, local, ethical food to children across the country.

Join Lucie Wardle (Supply Chain Officer at Food for Life Scotland) along with Bryce Cunningham from Mossgiel dairy farm in Ayrshire (where his organic, pasture-fed cows produce milk which he pasteurises on-site and supplies to schools in reusable bottles) to learn more about their experiences in making it happen; and hear about the opportunities and challenges public procurement brings to food systems change on the ground.

Moderated by Ana Allamand, the speakers will share their stories (Mossgiel farm currently supplies organic milk to East Ayrshire schools via a plastic free supply chain), highlighting practical ways to make it happen; and helping to identify future opportunities on the horizon.

Speakers/hosts include:

Ana Allamand

Lucie Wardle – Lucy, Supply Chain Officer at Food for Life Scotland works with local authorities, suppliers, and producers in Scotland to get more local food into school meals. Championing Scottish suppliers means that public money can be used for public good, supporting local businesses and ensuring that top quality Scottish food is enjoyed in Scottish school meals.

Bryce Cunningham – Bryce of Mossgiel Organic Dairy, is a third-generation dairy farmer. Bryce’s passion for the environment and high-quality dairy products has seen him pivot the business, converting to organic, and working with a plastic free supply chain, supplying directly to local businesses and most recently, East Ayrshire council for their school meals.

Mapping local supply chain infrastructure

Hosted by Sustain

Sustain are mapping local food supply chain infrastructure across Lancashire. They are looking into existing farm types, crop types and infrastructure such as (abattoirs, mills, storage, packing, processing, distribution units) to understand how the structure of a business operates, what infrastructure exists across specific businesses and if there are any major infrastructure gaps that may warrant potential areas for investment.

This research will eventually feed into investment opportunities, a methodology and hopefully an interactive online map and resources for many to use. We are keen to speak with any food and farming businesses that feel they have knowledge, experience and expertise to contribute to this discussion – this is an opportunity to be included in a timely, exciting piece of research to strengthen local food supply chains that can be expanded across Northern England and Scotland.

Speakers/hosts include:

Amber Johnson-Lawes – Amber is a Consultant Researcher for Sustain and works for the Biodynamic Land Trust as a Communication Development Officer.

James Woodward – James works for Sustain as a Sustainable Farming Officer with a focus on agroecology, farming, local food, and supply chains.

Citizen Grain: Engaging communities in a better flour and bread system

Hosted by Scotland the Bread

Scotland The Bread is a collaborative project to grow better grain and bake better bread with the common purposes of nourishment, sustainability and food sovereignty. As well as researching more nutrient dense varieties of grain, growing them organically and milling on farm into fine wholemeal flour, we lead a number of projects aiming to engage Scottish communities in a flour and bread system that is healthy, equitable, locally controlled and sustainable.

In this session we will share the practical approaches we are taking to ensure access to better flour, better bread and an understanding of the grain system for all. We will hear the voices of communities involved in our Soil to Slice and Flour to the People projects and a description of our inclusive ‘People’s Plant Breeding’ approach to seed selection. There will also be the opportunity to learn about research being undertaken into a progressive ‘people nourished per hectare’ standard which – although currently focusing on our grain production – could transform how we value all food we produce.

Scotland The Bread wants to work collaboratively with others involved in creating a better grain system. While demonstrating our approach to this task, we hope that this session will provide the opportunity to connect with others in North England and Scotland interested in joining us to inspire change.

Speakers/hosts include:

Tara Wight – PhD student in crop science, University of Edinburgh
In 2020 Tara carried out a professional internship placement with Nourish Scotland and Scotland The Bread exploring the potential for collaborative and participatory seed selection to improve crop development and community engagement in local grain systems.
Daisy Martinez – Food Systems Research Assistant, University of Edinburgh 
Daisy is part of a team – also including Dr Lindsay Jaacks and Dr Alfy Gathorne-Hardy – from the University of Edinburgh working on a research collaboration with Scotland the Bread that aims to understand how Scottish grain growing, flour milling, and bread baking can provide good quality jobs for the people of Scotland and looking to develop a ‘people, jobs and species nourished per hectare’ model that has the potential to improve how we measure food environments.
Sam Parsons – Estate Manager, Balcaskie Estate
Sam manages the thirteen farms that form Balcaskie Estate in the East Neuk of Fife. In 2015, the estate decided to switch from a conventional to a more regenerative, organic farming system, with the aims of measuring quality over quantity and moving away from producing for commodity markets. Since 2018, the estate has been growing Scotland The Bread’s diverse grains, and now lends its name to the Balcaskie Landrace wheat milled on-farm and sold to professional and home bakers.
Philip Revell – Projects Coordinator, Sustaining Dunbar
A founder member of Sustaining Dunbar with vast experience in environmental and community projects, since 2019 Philip has been leading a team of ‘patchwork farmers’ growing grains in small garden plots across the district as part of Scotland The Bread’s Soil to Slice project. Through this project, the community hope to develop a locally adapted landrace which can be used to re-establish a local supply chain linking growers, millers and bakers in the area.
Lyndsay Cochrane – Project Coordinator, Scotland The Bread
(Facilitator) Lyndsay Cochrane coordinates Scotland The Bread’s community outreach projects, working to engage local people in the movement to create a better flour and bread system.

FarmStart: Support and progress in the north

Hosted by the Urban Agriculture Consortium and the Landworkers’ Alliance

The Urban Agriculture Consortium (launched in summer 2020) has rapidly established itself as an innovative part of the emerging regenerative agroecology movement. The Urban Agriculture Consortium has joined forces with The Landworkers’ Alliance to set up and coordinate a series of workshops to support an emerging cluster of FarmStart projects across the north.

This session will describe the experiences to date, and will explore emerging opportunities to embed and promote further agroecological FarmStarts across the UK.

We hope the session will inspire further FarmStarts in other parts of England and Wales in 2022, potentially with DEFRA support.

People will gain an insight into the rapidly establishing movement of urban FarmStarts and collaborations between local, regional and national partners.

Speakers/hosts include:

Maddy Longhurst – Maddy has always followed her instincts to work on initiatives and ideas that lie in the fertile margins and serve future generations. Recently this has involved the protection of land and soils, community-led thermal imaging of cold homes, Ecosystem Restoration Design, creating regenerative Tiny House Settlements, Sociocracy and Gleaning training for communities. Maddy worked on Phase 1 of the urban agriculture project in 2019, and is now co-coordinating the Urban Agriculture Consortium.

Fran Halsall – After a decade-long career as a landscape photographer and writer, Fran completed an MA in landscape architecture at the University of Sheffield. She has been involved in the creation of three community growing spaces in Sheffield: the Kenwood Community Growers; the Food Work’s farm and the Regather community garden. Fran is ShefFood’s Urban Agriculture Co-ordinator, leading on Sheffield’s participation in the national Fringe Farming and Urban Agriculture Consortium programmes.

Hatty Richards – Hatty’s background is in project development, management and fundraising within the community sector, mostly related to bicycles and community supported agriculture. She has also spent years grafting out on the fields and hosting different groups on the land to learn about and take part in growing.

Giving farmers and growers a fairer share of the price of produce by building short food supply chains

Hosted by the Open Food Network

You will hear from a some of the farmers, growers and food hub managers who are using the Open Food Network to make direct selling links between the people producing the food and the eaters and buyers.

We will then open the discussion for participants to explore how they can join this growing network and in the process not only make their production enterprises more viable but also help to build fairer, more resilient and more environmentally sound food systems.

Speakers/hosts include:

Nick Weir – Nick is a part time grower on a CSA project. He is a founder of Stroudco Food Hub. He now works closely with farmers and growers to support them to make best use of the Open Food Network to build effective local food systems that are financially, environmentally and socially effective.

Nick believes that if we are going to build better food systems then we need to build those systems with tools which are fundamentally different from the tools used to build the current, broken, mainstream food system. This means that we need open source tools like the Open Food Network which are in common ownership and are controlled by the community of farmers, growers and community food enterprises.

Abi Morden – Abi is a founder member of Propagate and a seasoned food activist. She has been working across community and local food projects for over 20 years, and is passionate about food sovereignty and resilience. An experienced grower, facilitator, practitioner and researcher – Abi’s inclusive and collaborative attitude encourages everyone to be involved in thinking about and creating sustainable food systems. Abi is co-founder of Glasgow Food Policy Partnership, and the Dumfries and Galloway Sustainable Food Partnership (after moving to D&G last year) and holds an MSc in Food Security.

Rachel Gambro – Rachel is based in Aberdeenshire and is one of the 25 Food Tourism Ambassadors, recently appointed by Scotland Food and Drink, tasked to inspire food tourism growth in the area. In addition, she is leading the Rural Food Tourism Places project in Shetland, commissioned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, which focuses on collaboration and diversification opportunities within the crofting industry.

Rachel also runs a local community group called the Mixing Bowl Aberdeen whose objective, prior to the pandemic, was to bring people together to share their passion for good food. This was done through talks, tastings, demonstrations and very popular cooking workshops where local residents were encouraged to share favourite recipes

In addition to the regular monthly events, the Mixing Bowl organised and ran the annual Deeside Local Food Festival which attracted over 3500 visitors, showcased over 70 Aberdeen City and Shire food and drink businesses and facilitated over £55K of local produce and street food sales.

During lockdown, as a Covid resilient solution to the festival, the Deeside Food Hub was born and continues to offer a fortnightly local produce market featuring over 150 products from more than 20 producers using the Open Food Network platform.

The role of local wool and textile production in regenerative farming

Hosted by Rebecca Whittle

This event will bring you a panel of inspirational women; all of whom work with British wool or other fibres. Kate Makin (owner & founder of Northern Yarn), Maria Benjamin (Dodgson Wood farm), Zoe Fletcher (the Woolist), Andrea Meanwell (Low Borrowbridge Farm, author & Guardian columnist) and Rachel Atkinson (Daughter of a Shepherd) will join us to discuss how the wool industry has changed and how localised textile production can form an important part of regenerative farming landscapes, particularly in upland regions.

Speakers/hosts include:

Rebecca Whittle – Rebecca is a passionate advocate of local and sustainable food, farming and textiles. She is senior lecturer at Lancaster Environment Centre, community food skills chair for North Lancashire FoodFutures and a member of the Lancaster Textile Care Collective

Kate Makin – Kate is the owner and founder of Northern Yarn, an independent yarn shop in Lancaster which sources a wide variety of local and sustainable yarns including her own range which has been developed in collaboration with local farmers.

Maria Benjamin – Maria is the co-founder of Dodgson Wood, a farm diversification business based at Nibthwaite Grange Farm near Ulverston. Maria gives talks about building a business from scratch, particularly to the agricultural sector. She recently co-founded The Flock, which aims to provide British yarn from regenerative farms to fashion brands.

Zoe Fletcher: Passionate about British fleece and wool, Zoe’s work revolves around building honest, sustainable relationships with designers and producers, bridging the gap between raw materials, production and the end consumer. Pushing the boundaries using British wool and new technologies, exploring breed specific characteristics and celebrating their variety and versatility. Founder of the Woolist and co-founder of The Flock.

Cinderwood Market Garden: A review of year one

Hosted by Cinderwood Market Garden

Cinderwood is a one acre market garden in Cheshire built upon a relationship between a grower and a chef who believe in farming food for flavour. Produce is grown all year round in polytunnels and in the field using regenerative farming methods and supplies over fifteen restaurants, bakeries and delis in the Manchester area with produce harvested less than 24hrs before delivery. The panel session will re-live the successes and challenges faced within the first year of operation and sharing our learning with those who attend.


Speakers/hosts include:

Michael Fitzsimmons – Michael is a Liverpool-born market gardener who trained at The Organic Farm Shop in the Cotswolds. Since completing his growing apprenticeship in 2017 he has interned at Relæ’s Farm of Ideas in Copenhagen and worked as the Assistant Grower at two-Michelin starred restaurant Moor Hall in Lancashire. He is passionate about growing with care for the land and closing the gap between farm and table. Michael started Cinderwood Market Garden in October 2020.

Joseph Otway – Joseph is a chef based in Manchester who operates Higher Ground, Flawd Wine and Cinderwood Market Garden. He has previously cooked at agriculturally focused restaurants Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Relæ and Where The Light Gets In in Stockport.

Daniel Craig Martin – Daniel is the co-owner of Higher Ground and Flawd Wine in Manchester and Cinderwood Market Garden in Cheshire. He has previously worked at Noma in Copenhagen and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York.

Richard Cossins – Richard is the co-owner of Higher Ground and Flawd Wine in Manchester and Cinderwood Market Garden in Cheshire. He has previously worked at Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York and for Simon Rogan in the UK.