Suffolk FWAG 2019 Awards for Excellence in Ecological Farming –18th November 2019
Paul and Jen Read of Home Farm, winner of the Suffolk FWAG, ‘Peewit’ trophy
S & G Flaxtead, Steve, Karen and Mark, winner of The Tim Sloane Award
Home Farm at Thrandeston near Eye won the Suffolk FWAG Peewit Award for Excellence in Ecological Farming.
Paul and Jen Read’s farm is a small but very busy place. It is a mixture of historical boundaries, copse woodland, meadows, orchards, malt house ponds, a pre-Roman settlement and a County Wildlife Site Common. The habitats at Home Farm are carefully managed for maximum diversity. Paul has a policy of waiting to see what will appear in the ground flora and hedges and will not introduce plants unless absolutely necessary. As a result some rarities have appeared!
Paul has a vast knowledge of the history and biodiversity on his farm but his biggest passion is traditional orchards. He is currently developing six orchards holding 507 trees of 406 cultivars, some of which are very rare.
Paul points out that you go into this to produce trees for intrinsic value and to produce graft scions and after some years you will get a crop. But then this crop gets bigger and bigger. One “traditional fruit tree” just 15 years old tree can produce 150 kg of fruit in one year.
The traditional orchards at Home Farm are providing both Natural capital and public goods.
As well as producing a crop, the orchards are a local focus point- villagers gather fruit for juicing and cider. They provide graft scions for distribution to ensure the future of these old traditional orchards. The grazing Portland sheep provide lambs for breeding stock and meat. The trees themselves provide carbon sequestration and good soil conditioning. These trees are also used for educational and demonstration purposes. Traditional orchards have characteristic biodiversity that increases with the age of the trees.
The collection of traditional apples that Paul brought along and his boundless enthusiasm fascinated and inspired many during the awards evening. As a result, perhaps we will see more traditional orchards being established in Suffolk!
White House Farm
S.G.Flaxman / D.J.Flaxman
Both businesses are run from White House Farm, Sotherton, Halesworthamd are family run farm businesses with three generations involved. The business is run day to day by Stephen and Karen Flaxman and their Son, Mark.
D.J.Flaxman is the arable operation, 180Ha of land at Sotherton, Spexhall, Wenhaston and Bramfield, plus outside contracting for neighbours. S.G.Flaxman is the Suckler herd business, grazing 150 Ha of grassland at Gillingham, Southwold and Wenhaston. The Southwold land is SSSI and under an HLS Scheme, originally managed via an ESA agreement instigated by Tim Sloane.
The suckler animals are returned to the main farm over winter and fed on home produced maize / grass silage, hay, barley and beans. The management at Southwold is central to the maintenance of the SSSI in suitable condition, large scale mowing would not deliver the eco system benefits . The Southwold Marshes are one of the most accessed public recreation areas in Suffolk. A golf course, cafes, pub, yacht club, footpaths, public roads, campsite all border the site, the public good is difficult to calculate.
The area continues to grow in popularity as a year-round holiday destination.