Meet The Farmers | Down to Earth South

Wednesday 21st June | Neil Baker, Haselbury Plucknett, Somerset

On Wednesday, 21st June, Neil Baker will open his gates at Haselbury Plucknett, for visitors to see his high-yielding indoor herd of 1,800 predominately Holstein cows in action.

Cows are milked three times a day, producing 55,000l of milk. Neil farms 3,200 acres of owned, rented and contract-farmed land.

He is one of Arla’s regenerative pilot farms and says for him, regenerative farming encompasses much more than simply focussing on the soil. Whilst he admits soils are a big area, he prefers using the word ‘circular farming’ over the regenerative farming phrase.

As part of the pilot project, Neil is looking to grow maize without any chemical inputs and understand the economic side by calculating carbon emissions from ‘ghost acres’.

Neil uses digestate from an AD plant on his farm on the crops he grows, including wheat, barley, peas and grass. He also has begun establishing important pollinator corridors, which provide a barrier for wildlife.

Neil says regenerative farming means more than just selling the plough. He looks at it from a whole farm perspective- something he calls circular farming- which includes the staff and community. 

Meet The Farmers | Down to Earth North

Thursday 6th July | Mark and Jenny Lee, Park House Farm, Torpenhow, Cumbria

On Thursday, 6th July, Mark and Jenny Lee, Park House Farm, Torpenhow, will showcase their organic unit. Their farm consists of 175 milking crossbred cows, certified 100% pasture fed by Pasture for Life and mob-grazed on a 30-40 day rotation using 2.5km of grazing tracks.

Half of their milk goes into the farm’s cheese-making business and the rest is sold to First Milk. They are also pioneering selling liquid milk directly to local cafes and farm shops using an innovative plastic-saving system, Freshkeg. They aim to achieve their milk’s true value, proofing their farm for the future.

The Lee’s lightbulb moment came when their cows actively sought out an area of a field to graze that had not been sprayed. So, in 2017, the Lee’s began their journey into organic farming and managing land regeneratively. 

They now have areas of silvopasture for grazing and have incorporated 80 pigs into the rotation, which work in poorly performing fields to help improve them.

Before bird flu restrictions, 1,800-2,000 free-range broiler chickens were also reared a year, helping improve the pasture through their organic muck.