At Fir Farm we continually strive for a more sustainable way of farming. We have a number of ongoing projects meaning that our farming environment is always changing, evolving and adapting.
Renewing and recycling
We are committed to reducing our fossil fuel usage. We generate our own energy as much as possible using solar, biomass and ground source heating, and we collect and conserve our own water.
We recycle as much as possible, plastic is sent to Solway plastics and metal waste to Gilder’s Metal Recycling. Garden waste is composted and used on the land.
Our goal is to become fully renewable in the long-term.
We are designing and building a mobile abattoir to improve welfare for our animals. Our animals are born and raised on the farm, and we want to ensure they experience the best welfare possible right up until the end of their life. Loading and unloading from a lorry or trailer and travelling long distances to a place they have never been before can cause stress for the animals, which is why we feel the most humane option is to slaughter on the farm.
The mobile abattoir will initially operate and be licenced for Fir Farm, but we hope to operate within a 15 mile radius with other farmers, forming a cooperative to manage and run the mobile abattoir.
The abattoir would come to the farm, kill the animal and would then either leave the carcass with the farmer in his own chiller or take the carcass away to a central storage. The waste from the abattoir would be left with the farmer who would pay a renderer to take it away.
The mobile abattoir is an ongoing project as part of a broader campaign for local slaughter. We are aiming to build the abattoir in spring 2020.
Mealworms are a key part of the diet for chickens, pheasants and other poultry and we now produce our own mealworms on the farm. It is a very simple system but does require a warm room or container to keep the mealworms alive. We purchased live mealworms and grew them on into beetles. The beetles then produce more mealworms which we harvest and feed to the poultry. They live in a container on a bed of rolled barley and to harvest them we use waste vegetables collected from village. The mealworms feed on the vegetables, allowing us to easily collect them. We then feed them direct to the poultry. Mealworms are a source of natural protein and improve the gut of the bird, making them more resistant to disease and helping them to grow.
Dew pond restoration
We are currently working with the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group to identify and restore old dew ponds on the farm. Dew ponds are artificial ponds sited on the top of a hill and intended for watering livestock. Dew ponds are usually used where a natural supply of surface water may not be readily available. We are currently restoring two ponds on the farm, using clay lining and local Cotswold stone.
We are improving our soil organic matter and creating a multi enterprise system by planting up a field with biomass, fruit and nut trees. The grass and foliage underneath the trees will be mob grazed and cattle will also be able to browse the biomass trees which are great for extra nutrition and self-medication. We will harvest the fruit and nuts to create the sale of juice or other enterprises.
The benefits of Agrofrorestry
Trees provide another source of income from fruit and nut production, timber and woodfuel
Trees provide shelter and shade for livestock benefitting welfare and increasing daily live weight gains
Trees are essential for storing carbon. Our project will sequester 1,063 tonnes CO2e/year
Water and soil
Trees slow the water run off from fields to help prevent flooding and reduce soil erosion
Trees provide important habitats for wildlife such as owls and tree sparrows
Trees act as a home for ‘friendly predators’ who combat some of the pests that may eat or destroy crops