Organic Husbandry, like Civilisation, is not a state to be certified or admired. It is a method. We do it. We cultivate our gardens, build our houses and love our friends. So, “Organic” does not describe our produce, but our husbandry system, which behaves as closely as we can manage like a self-renewing organism. Fertility is balanced by the sensitive rotation of plants and animals and by the return of wastes, which maintain the vitality of the soil.
We farm organically, because we think it the most truly high-yielding, efficient and enduring way to farm and because a healthy system produces healthy food. (True yield is output minus input)
Our arable fields are rotated in a six-year cycle of two years of Cereals and four years of Red Clover, which we cut for silage. Bacteria, which colonise the roots of clover, harvest nitrogen from the air, which then feeds the clover and subsequent crops. Straw-manure, accumulates in the cattle sheds over winter and is returned to the silage fields in late summer after a period of at least three months composting (which makes it bio-chemically stable). The crop you can see in these pictures is a mixture of Triticale and Peas, which ripen together for combining. We also grow some Oats.
Sometimes we sow chicory, whose deep roots cultivate well below the depth of the plough and so help to both drain and deepen the soil.
Of course, neither the husbandry, nor the ecology of a farm, end at the farm gate. They end at the most distant customer’s kitchen table. They also end in far distant arable fields, which provide animal feed and in emptying North African holes in the ground, from which phophate-rich rock is extracted.
At Bryn Cocyn, we are self-sufficient in animal feed and buy in no fertilisers. However it would be nice to receive some wastes back from the community Bryn Cocyn feeds. One day, in saner times perhaps!We think it a tragedy that organic standards have been perverted to the needs of a cynical health-food industry. I don’t think we can buy“Organic”, or “Fair Trade” dispensation for our guilt at entering a supermarket. Anyway, the alternative is so pleasing: attractive town centres, proper shops and vivacious market squares!
As oil departs, so the super market fades leaving a new franchise for conviliality! If one litre of oil must be replaced by two weeks of toil, then we’ve a lot to think about and a lot to do. Surely a recipe for civilization! Well, a farm and her customers are one complex nervous system and one symbiotic metabolism. Cities are agricultures. How else can they be fed?
A small wind turbine (6kw) plus 4kw of solar panels balance our electricity use.
Potatoes & oats (Sarpo Axona & Mascani) August 2015
Here’s Owain’s new house going up (21st January 2017) – local timber & local skills, thanks to Elwy Working Woods. Now we’ll be a small farm employing two households.