A Visit to Newhouse Farm
On Wednesday 11th August, we took a trip to a lovely organic farm in Launceston called Newhouse Farm. Whilst they don’t supply us with anything, Steve and Jo, the farm tenants for over 30 years, are always happy to give up a day to show the apprentices around the farm and explain to them the processes of organic farming.
After coffee and lovely homemade biscuits, the day began with an introduction from Steve and Jo who gave a brief overview of the background of the farm and how they moved into being organically certified and what that actually involves. They rear dairy (Friesian) and beef (Aberdeen Angus) cattle, and LLeyn sheep. They also grow fields of oats and peas and grass and clover for stock feed. The clover and the peas put nitrogen back into the soil. They use a complex crop and stock rotation to ensure maximum soil fertility.
Not only do they rear livestock, but they also run a lovely little cafe on the farm which they grow lots of garden veggies for, just a couple of metres away! As well as this, Jo runs quilting workshops and puts on exhibitions.
Following Jo and Steve there was a presentation by Martin Davies of Davies Organic Consultancy who has worked with the farm for the last couple of years. He explained to the students what being organic actually means, the official certifications of being organic and how diseases, pests and soil fertility are controlled and maintained.
Before splitting into 2 groups the apprentices were also given a talk by Phillip Warren of Warren’s Butcher’s. The butchery is only 10 minutes drive from the farm so the lambs that he buys from Jo and Steve have not travelled far at all in their lifetime, as the abattoir is also within close range. Philip explained to the apprentices that farming should be about sustainability and that stock should be reared on farmland that is most suitable for their breed. Otherwise that breed won’t thrive.
With all the talks done, everyone went into the yard to meet some of the sheep whilst Philip talked through the process of rearing them and pointed out the different cuts. One group were then taken on a tour of the fields by Steve whilst the other group stayed behind and did organic taste testing with Martin. We then all broke from some delicious lunch in the cafe (pasta bake followed by summer fruit crumble) before swapping groups.
There was a short quiz at the end before we got back on the bus. We stopped off quickly at Phillip Warrens before heading back to the Bay. A great day was had by all, and big thank you must go out to Jo and Steve for their time and hospitality.