Organic farming is not a new 'fad', but means a return to pre-chemical forms of farming-no pesticides or herbidies which kill soil organisms, insects and weeds hence there are more sources for animals, birds and insects. This also minimised health problems in our food and pollution of our environment.
What does organic farming mean at West Town Farm?
Chemicals- The land has had no chemicals applied since 1990. The main one used on the farm was artificial fertiliser. This was manufactured in large chemical plants using vast amounts of energy to convert neurone from the atmosphere into nitrates to increase crop growth.
We grow clover on the farm. This is an essential ingredient to most organic farms today. It has a unique property of being able to 'fix' nitrogen from the atmosphere. This helps to build up the fertility of the soil.
Now the only input onto the land is the compost made from the animals dung and straw from their winter bedding.
Antibiotics- Antibiotics, or any other chemical treatments on animals are not used routinely on organic farms. We only use when absolutely necessary.
Organic Certification- The land and the animals have been treated like this since 1990. We achieved full organic status in 1992. The farm is certified by the Soil Association.
The Future- Some people see organic food as an elitist product for wealthy people. But if we look at the bigger picture and think about sustainability some important questions are raised. The intensive chemical farming of the past sixty years has temporarily produced cheap food- but it has been heavily dependent on cheap oil, which won't be available for much longer. It has also been responsible for very high carbon emissions, mainly through the production of artificial fertilisers- something else we will be unable to indulge in the future. The cheap food produced by these methods is not sustainable, but it's availability has led to an expectation that food should be cheap.
The world we live in is changing rapidly. The levels of damage to the environment and the biodersity have been dramatic through 'chemical farming' and are still going on. We hope that what is happening at our farm and the actions we take here can be part of of the solution and a step in the right direction.
Ongoing wildlife surveys are showing steadily increasing levels of biodiversity. This is also due to the Environmental Stewardship.
We at West Town Farm believe that organic farming can produce affordable food, especially if bought unprocessed and locally. It also cuts out the hidden costs of 'cheap' food- the costs to animal welfare, our health and the environment.